ST. MARYS — Elk County Catholic’s Emily Evers has delivered more than her shaare of big hits throughout her career, and the senior came through in the clutch again Monday with a two-run, walk-off double to give the Lady Crusaders a thrilling 3-2 win over DuBois at Benzinger Park.
It appeared like DuBois was on its way to its first win of the season, as the Lady Beavers led 2-0 going into the bottom of the fifth behind a solid pitching performance by Molly Nosker.
However, the Lady Crusaders staged a late-game comeback, thanks in large part to sophomore Michelle Gerber actually outdueling Nosker in the circle to keep her team in the game. And, Gerber was rewarded with a win when the a pair of clutch two-out hits by Sady VanAlstine and Evers in the fifth and seventh innings, respectively, knocked home all three ECC runs.
VanAlstine’s key single in the firth was set up by a leadoff single by teammate Maggie Dinsmore. Then with one out, Brianna Weisner ripped a pitch down the third-base line that was backhanded on one knee by DuBois’ Rachel Gildersleeve. However, Weisner beat the throw to first for an infield hit while pinch-runner Maddie taylor hustled around to third.
VanAlstine stepped in and smacked a single to right to score Taylor and cut DuBois’ lead in half at 2-1. Things remained that way until the bottom of the seventh, when ECC capitalized on a couple DuBois miscues to pull out the win and improve to 4-0 on the season.
And, like in the fifth, it was the bottom of the ECC order that made some things happen. Emily Wolf (No. 8 batter) got the inning rolling when she reached on a dropped third strike with one out. VanAlstine then hit a comebacker to Nosker, but the Lady Beaver’s throw to first was off the mark and ECC ended up with runners on the corners.
VanAlstine then took second without a throw, which prompted DuBois to intentionally walk leadoff hitter Brani Clyde to load the bases and create a forceout at any base. The move initially paid off as Nosker struck out Jenna Weisner for the second out.
But, Nosker and her teammates couldn’t squirm out of the jam as Evers ripped a two-out, bases-loaded double to left that scored Wolf and VanAlstine with the tying and game-winning runs. Evers finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two doubles — the first of which hit off the top of the fence in left with one out in the fourth.
Gerber went the distance to get the win in the circle. She allowed twp runs, both earned, on five hits while striking out two and walking two. Nosker ended up the hard-luck loser in her first varsity start. The junior gave up three runs, one earned, on eight hits while striking out eight and walking just one.
“We’ve been preaching to the girls pressure their (opponent’s) defense every chance we get, and they did today and just kept fighting,” said ECC coach Digger O’Dell. “We played very well and maybe had one error I think, and this is a vast improvement over last year. That’s what we were all about last year was errors. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of kids and have made leaps and bounds from last year.
“Michelle did a great job keeping their batters off-balance. They got their hits and scored two in the third, but we kept grinding and fighting the entire time. And Emily ... she’s Emily. The kid has ice in her veins I believe.
“This is a big confidence booster for us. DuBois has been one of the class acts in the area for years. They are always tough and always competitive. You never go in thinking they are in down a year because they are never down. They have a really good program.”
The game started out as a pitcher’s duel between Nosker and Gerber, and it was DuBois that finally got some offense going with a two-run top of the third.
Kacie Means, DuBois’ No. 9 batter, jump-started the inning with a one-out single to center and was replaced on the bases by courtesy runner Maddie Smith. Marissa Torretti followed with a single to right before Kylee Bundy smacked a single of her own.
Smith raced home from second on Bundy’s hit, while Torretti and Bundy ended up at third and second, respectively, on a late throw to the plate. Laura Fatula scored Torretti with a groundout to make it 2-0, but Gerber stopped the damage there as she got Gildersleeve to ground out to third to end the inning.
Elk County tried to make some noise in the bottom of the fourth when Evers blasted her one-out double off the fence. However, DuBois promptly got out of trouble when second baseman Bundy snagged a line drive off the bat of Josie Smith and doubled-off Evers to end the inning.
Torretti tried to start a rally with a two-out walk in the fifth, then stole second. But, she was stranded there as Gerber got Bundy to fly out to center for the third out.
Dinsmore than started the ECC come back with her leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth that led to the Lady Crusaders’ first run. Dinsmore was 2-for-3 on the day.
DuBois had the chance to extend its 2-1 lead in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Gildersleeve singled with one-out in the sixth, while Lexi Ray reached on an infield single into the hole at short to lead of the seventh. However, Gerber stranded each runner at first base, which set the stage for Evers’ heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
“You can’t give extra outs. We need to get those outs when they are given to us and get off the field,” said DuBois coach Rick McClelland. “The Evers girl is a really good hitter, and they (ECC) made the plays they needed to today, and we didn’t.”
Both teams are back in action today at home. DuBois welcomes Altoona, while ECC hosts Kane.