Hayes helps Panthers take over first
The Piedmont Panthers' softball team ripped off three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to overtake Cuthbertson in a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.
The Panthers (10-2, 7-0 Rocky River Conference) grabbed sole possession of first place in the Rocky River Conference with the win after handing the Cavaliers (7-2, 5-1 RRC) their first league loss of the season.
The Cavaliers held a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning and pitcher Mattie Nuccio was working on a two-hitter.
"We keep telling them to keep at it because they know they're good hitters," said Piedmont coach Jason Phelix. "They know how to hit tough pitchers and it's just a matter of time before we come through and they know that."
Panthers junior second baseman Hayleigh Gimber led off the inning with a single, followed by an error on Kayla York's grounder to second.
Senior Micaela Hayes drove in Gimber with a bunt single to cut the deficit in half and Sarah Tucker followed up with a single to tie the game.
Nuccio responded by getting a pop up and a strikeout, but Melissa Garcia delivered with two outs. Garcia sliced a grounder between third and short, bringing home Hayes with the winning run.
"It took us a little while to get going; Mattie Nuccio is a really tough pitcher and she did an outstanding job of locating her spots," Phelix said. "She's a hard thrower with good movement and it took us a little while to get on her. ..."
The Cavaliers had one last shot in the top of the seventh, but starting pitcher Christy Pressley slammed the door.
Pressley, a freshman, got a ground out to third and a strikeout-looking to start the inning.
Jessica Weber kept the inning alive with a single up the middle, bringing hard-hitting catcher Kara Salvo to the plate.
Salvo was looking for the fence when she lifted a deep fly ball to right center, but it was caught at the fence for the third and final out.
The victory puts Piedmont in the driver's seat in the conference.
"We're a really young team and we still take these types of games as a learning process," Phelix said. "The end result is obviously we want to advance in the postseason. Our first and foremost goal is to win the conference regular season championship and go on from there. We're just trying to keep track of our goals and keep our eyes on what we're trying to do."