FREDERICK — For the Erie and Frederick softball teams, being at the pinnacle of the Class 4A Tri-Valley League at the end of the season is the only acceptable option.
And while the sun still hasn't set on the month of August yet, Frederick has taken the necessary steps to forge ahead in the race, including Saturday's never-say-die rally to beat the Tigers 8-7 at the Frederick softball field.
With a head-to-head win against the only team likely to contend in the league — they will meet again soon, though — Frederick improved to 3-0 overall and in the TVL, rallying from a 7-2 deficit with six runs in its final two innings.
"No matter what happens, we always believe in each other and that's a big part of what we do," said junior Julia Wyatt, who hit a huge single in the sixth frame that ended up scoring two runs and bringing the Warriors within striking distance for the win. "No matter how far we're down, we always come back because of how much we believe in each other. We keep fighting and we'll always keep fighting."
It's actually the second time already that Frederick has rallied this season. The Warriors were trailing Mead 8-7 entering the sixth inning on Thursday, only to plate the final nine runs of the game.
Saturday, Frederick only had four hits in the sixth and seventh innings combined, but walks, hit batsmen and Erie errors helped turn the tables.
An error in right field on a pop fly off the bat of Frederick's Hanna Ellis plated the winning run, with two outs and the game appearing headed for extra innings.
"We didn't tuck our tail, and dug down and just found a way," said Frederick coach Roger Dufour. "It starts with getting runners on and just trying to make something happen, and I'm proud of them."
"Our approach at the plate was really good, and we came out and early on didn't get caught up in the emotion of a rivalry," Erie coach Harold Simmons added. "We had an injury late, and we had to deal with that, and I think that's where we started to get emotional and those things took over. We're too good of a team to let that happen."
The Tigers (1-1, 1-1) came out swinging against Frederick's Alicia Hernandez, and Hannah Hackney started the EHS scoring with a two-run home run. Rio Sanchez, batting leadoff and pitching, and Anne Fisher also hit home runs — Fisher's blast greeted Brooklyn Johnson after the hosts made a pitching change entering the fifth frame.
Erie held that 7-2 lead into the sixth frame, but the momentum really shifted after the Tigers failed to score with runners at second and third on just one out. Adding to that, Lynsey Bauchert was seriously injured after she made the third out, rolling her ankle running through first base. Simmons said Bauchert likely broke her ankle on the play.
The wheels fell off from there. Sanchez struck out 10 batters but also hit four with pitches, and she also had a pair of walks in the sixth inning. Wyatt's single should have scored only one, but a throw-in from the outfield bounced hard off Hackney's shin guard and back up toward first base, making it 7-6.
"To be able to get a hit and get some runs in, in that situation, it was great," Wyatt said.
In the seventh, Mae Mitchell singled, stole second base and scored on a hit from Johnson up the middle to tie the game, and pinch runner Aspen Dufour came all the way around to score the winner when Ellis' fly ball was misplayed in right.
"Seeing one of our teammates go down was really hard," Hackney said. "We focused on winning every inning, and we were (early). There was one inning we let them come back. It's a tough loss, especially against Frederick, but I think the next time we see them we'll be in for a better game."
Erie out-hit Frederick 12-7, with Maddie Foster contributing three base hits and Bre Wilson with two.
Frederick 8, Erie 7
At Frederick HS
Erie 201 220 0 — 7 12 3
Frederick 002 004 2 — 8 7 1
W — Johnson. L — Sanchez.
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Rio Sanchez 2-2-1-2, Teagen Brand 0-0-0-0, Hannah Hackney 2-2-2-2, Alea Brand 0-0-0-0, Katie Glaze 3-0-0-0, Anne Fisher 4-1-2-1, Lynsey Bauchert 4-0-1-1, Victoria Macias 4-0-1-0, Bre Wilson 3-2-2-0, Maddie Foster 4-0-3-1, Elise Capra 3-0-0-0, Morgan Weber 1-0-0-0. Totals 30-7-12-7.
Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Paris Woods 4-0-2-0, Shea Heath 3-0-0-1, Mae Mitchell 2-1-2-1, Savannah Hall 3-1-0-0, Grace Brunstrom 1-0-0-0, Brooklyn Johnson 3-1-1-1, Brittie Massey 0-0-0-0, Lorena Hernandez 1-2-0-0, Aspen Dufour 0-0-0-0, Hanna Ellis 4-1-1-1, Makenna Goodard 0-0-0-0, Alicia Hernandez 0-1-0-0, Kaitlyn Reagin 1-0-0-0, Kendall Martinez 0-0-0-1, Julia Wyatt 2-1-1-1. 24-8-7-6.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Sanchez 7-7-8-4-4-10.
Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — A. Hernandez 4-9-5-5-2-4, Johnson 3-3-2-2-3-1.