“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Yogi Berra said it.
Lenny Kravitz sang it.
And, Thursday, the New Haven Lady Shamrocks and St. Clair Lady Bulldogs lived it on the softball field.
Trailing 9-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, New Haven (3-2, 1-1) rallied over two innings to win the Four Rivers Conference meeting over St. Clair (3-4, 1-1) on Lions Field in New Haven, 10-9.
“The girls showed a lot of heart and determination,” New Haven Head Coach Doug Peirick said. “We’re relatively young with not a lot of experience this year. This has been a learning process for us. The girls didn’t give up and they battled through everything. That’s a very big Four Rivers Conference win. New Haven doesn’t get those often.”
St. Clair Assistant Coach Roberta Byers felt St. Clair had the game won.
“I feel like we beat ourselves,” Byers said. “We made too many mistakes and that’s what we have to fix. We can always get better and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”
Berra, Kravitz or anyone else watching the game would have enjoyed the sheer suspense the game generated.
Madelyn Ruszala led off with a triple and that was just the start. St. Clair scored twice in the top of the first, but New Haven tied it in the bottom of the frame.
New Haven took a 3-2 lead in the second, but the Lady Bulldogs squared the score in the top of the third.
St. Clair scored a run in the top of the fourth when pinch runner Averi Archer hustled home on a Ruszala groundout. And, that run stood up for quite some time.
However, everything changed in the sixth inning. St. Clair busted open the game, taking advantage of four New Haven errors. The five-run inning seemed to be the game breaker.
“We put the ball into play and got baserunners on,” Byers said. “That was very helpful to build confidence. We are getting baserunners on and we’re hitting the ball a little better.”
However, New Haven copied that in the bottom of the sixth and it was 9-8 for St. Clair heading into the seventh inning.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t hit like that for the first five innings,” Peirick said. “We had a bad sixth inning in the field and the girls didn’t look like they were into the game. When they went in, they started hitting and that gave them the confidence to field in the top of the seventh. That carried over to the bottom of the seventh. We just hit the ball and got good at-bats. That’s what it takes for seven innings.”
With the 7-8-9 batters due up, Katelyn Dittberner led off by reaching on an error and Lindsey Steinbeck did the same thing. Steinbeck’s play scored Dittberner with the tying run.
Madison Langenberg, who took over in the circle in the sixth, gave herself the win by hammering the winning hit. She didn’t stop until she reached third base.
New Haven outhit St. Clair, 12-6, for the game.
Langenberg had three of the hits, needing only a home run for the cycle. She scored once and drove in two.
Mackenzie Wilson, Ryan Stutzman and Brande Kubiak each had two hits. Wilson doubled twice. Kubiak doubled once.
Jessica Underwood, Dittberner and Steinbeck each had one hit.
Kubiak and Steinbeck each stole a base.
Steinbeck crossed the plate three times. Underwood and Wilson each scored twice. Langenberg, Dittberner and Abbigail Meyer scored once.
Langenberg, Wilson, Stutzman and Kubiak each drove in two runs. Underwood and Steinbeck had one RBI apiece.
Stutzman had two sacrifice flies.
Stutzman made her first start of the season and lasted five innings before giving way to Langenberg.
Stutzman allowed four runs on four hits and four walks. She struck out 10.
“Ryan has been hurt and this was her first start,” Peirick said. “She struggled for the first three innings, but she powered through and got us to Maddie. She did a good job.”
Langenberg allowed five runs on two hits and one hit batter.
Ruszala had St. Clair’s biggest hit, the triple.
Emma Davis, Jess Bess, Current Smith, Kaitlyn Janson and Ruthie Cordia had one hit apiece.
Ruszala also stole a base, scored twice and drove in two.
Davis had one run and two RBIs.
Bess scored twice and drove in a run.
Smith walked, stole two bases, scored and drove in a run.
Cecilia VanNess drew a walk. Brooklyn Hyatt walked and was hit by a pitch. She scored once.
Cordia added a run.
“Today, we thought we were the better team, but they got the win,” Byers said.