Yough softball team scores winning run on error in 8th inning to top Freeport

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021 | 7:58 PM


Freshman Makayla Spoonhoward made the turn for home, hit the deck and did a rollover.

The Yough freshman slid safely across the plate after an error on a pick-off attempt in the bottom of the eighth Wednesday to bring an abrupt ending to a WPIAL softball playoff game that couldn’t have been played more closely.

Just like that, though. Flash. Bang. Over.

Yough 3, Freeport 2.

In an intersection of adulation and shock, Yough players and coaches locked in a huddled-up celebration while Freeport’s dragged their feet back to the dugout.

A game that good just shouldn’t end that way. Especially in the playoffs.

“Sometimes in softball, that’s how the cookie crumbles,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “This was a tough one to take. The girls were pretty upset.”

No. 7 Yough (11-5) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force extra innings in the Class 4A first-round game at Norwin before sophomore McKenzie Pritts came to bat with runners at first and second and one down in the eighth.

Pritts foul-tipped a bunt on the first offering from Freeport freshman pitcher Sydney Selker, but the second pitch got away slightly from Freeport junior catcher Natalie King, who corralled the ball and threw to third. The throw sailed into left field and gave Spoonhoward time to go.

Spoonhoward, who already was in motion on a steal attempt, dashed home for the winning run.

Spoonhoward led off the inning with a walk, and senior Kaylyn Odelli also walked.

Yough advances to play No. 2 Beaver (14-0) on Monday at a time and site to be determined.

The 10th-seeded Yellowjackets are finished at 9-7.

The Cougars are known for finding ways to scrape out runs with coach Dutch Harvey in charge.

“We work on (small ball situations) all the time, and this is why,” said Yough senior Savannah Manns, who went 3 for 4 and drove in a run. “We practice it all the time, like all day long. This was a really good matchup.”

After a double by Pritts, Yough scored its first run in the third on a fielding error, then tied it on a sacrifice fly by Manns. Pritts got it when the catcher couldn’t hold on for the tag.

Freeport made three errors.

It stayed 2-2 despite chances by both teams. Yough left runners at first and third in the fifth after a two-out squeeze bunt failed to produce a run.

“We have a lot of freshmen who are still coming along, and we had some mental mistakes,” Harvey said. “They are learning. This was their first playoff game. I am hard on them, but I believe in high-pressure situations. This was one today.”

Freeport took a 1-0 lead on junior Autumn Powell’s run-scoring single with two outs in the first.

In the third, Selker ripped a two-out triple to score King for a 2-0 advantage.

“The errors shouldn’t happen. You can’t make the plays for them,” Ross said. “Our freshy pitched her heart out. We didn’t put the bat on the ball like we should, and we have had trouble getting bunts down all year.”

Selker struck out 11 and walked eight while allowing just one earned run. Yough junior ace Emma Augustine fanned 10, walked three and allowed four hits in eight innings.

Yough left the bases loaded in the first as Selker wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout.

The Cougars had seven hits.

“Their pitcher was probably just as tired as I was,” Augustine said. “This was a tough game. We knew around the sixth inning this could (go to extra innings).”

Pritts had two hits for Yough.

“I am proud of our girls,” Ross said. “We’ll miss our two seniors, Emily (Schmidt) and Maya (Borghol). They had great careers.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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