HS SOFTBALL: Williams Valley outlasts Schuylkill Haven 10-9 in 8 innings

May 7—TOWER CITY — Sage Smeltz said it best.

"We're fighters," Williams Valley's sophomore pitcher said.

Twice fighting back from big deficits, the Vikings never gave up and rallied past Schuylkill Haven 10-9 in eight innings in a rare Sunday afternoon Schuylkill League Division II softball game.

Williams Valley's Audrina Fry tied the game with a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Sage Smeltz won it with a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the eighth.

"We've been fighting all season," Sage Smeltz said. "It's in our nature to come back. We never give up, and it's a great thing."

Especially early on, and for long stretches, it looked like Schuylkill Haven (10-8, 6-5 D-II) had control. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning and extended their lead to 5-1 on back-to-back RBI singles by Nikki Domermuth and Maddy Bensinger in the third inning.

Williams Valley (12-5, 9-2) chipped away, scoring two unearned runs in the third inning to cut the deficit to 5-3. In the fifth, Ally Underkoffler and Quin Smeltz rapped RBI singles and Sage Smeltz, who finished 4-for-5, belted an RBI double as the Vikings took their first lead of the day, 6-5.

In stayed that way until the top of the seventh when Schuylkill Haven delivered what looked like the knockout punch. The Hurricanes rallied for four runs, two on Kate Donne's go-ahead two-run single and two more on a double by Bensinger.

Trailing 9-6, Williams Valley got a break when two errors put two runners on base to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Schuylkill Haven retired the next two batters, but Fry blasted her first varsity home run over the center-field fence to tie the game 9-9.

"I was so happy, I was tearing up," Fry said with a laugh.

Sage Smeltz, the winning pitcher, set down the Hurricanes 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth inning.

In the bottom half, freshman Ella Kobularik, the leadoff batter, smacked the first pitch she saw into left field for a single. After Underkoffler lined out to right field, Kobularik stole second base. Sage Smeltz followed with a drive to the fence in right-center field, and Kobularik raced home with the winning run.

Kobularik had a big day, going 3-for-4 with a double, two stolen bases and four runs scored.

"I said (in the team huddle that) 'I'm proud of you for not quitting,' " Williams Valley coach Ryan Underkoffler said. "You could have easily given up in the top of the seventh when they scored and went up by three, but we got that big hit when we needed it to keep us in the game, and then came through in the last inning."

The game could be a preview of the District 11 Class AA playoffs. Both the Hurricanes and Vikings have qualified for the six-team field, with Northern Lehigh and Minersville having already locked up berths and Catasauqua and Panther Valley in line to qualify. It's possible Schuylkill Haven and Williams Valley could meet again.

"We plan to," Schuylkill Haven coach Garry Adams said. "We've just got to watch out for those innings where we implode a little bit and make some mental mistakes and clean it up. I thought the last two games (Minersville and Williams Valley) we played very tough. These are two teams in our district. We'll get ready."

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