FREDERICK — Whenever the Frederick and Erie softball teams renew their rivalry on the diamond, it’s a big game for both teams. Saturday’s matchup meant more than usual to each, as it ended with a change atop the Tri-Valley League.
The Erie Tigers’ held off the Frederick Warriors to win 5-4 and match the league-leading Warriors’ 8-2 conference record. But the head-to-head victory, combined with a 7-4 win over the Warriors on Aug. 28, gave the Tigers sole possession of the Tri-Valley lead, if only by a narrow margin.
With four games remaining in the Tri-Valley season, Tigers center fielder Kenzie Kudrna said the win was vital to the Tigers’ postseason plans.
“We kind of put ourselves in the passengers’ seat in the league when we lost to Windsor and Berthoud,” Kudrna said. “Winning this game puts us in the driver’s seat and we get to determine where we are in playoffs.”
Kudrna scored a run, her second, in the seventh that put the Tigers up 5-2 and may have been the difference in the one-run game.
Clutch on defense, as well, the Tigers sophomore made a diving catch in the fifth inning that saved two runs and made the final out in the game, a running catch on a deep fly ball that could have scored the tying run from first base.
“It’s definitely the best feeling ever as an outfielder to just dive and save that big run,” Kudrna said.
Coming off a five-inning no-hitter against Northridge on Thursday, junior pitcher Carrie Clarke had another good game on the mound for the Tigers. It was her second time pitching against the Warriors this season.
“I just kind of knew where they hit it and I wanted to put the pitches low at their knees and get ground balls out of them,” Clarke said. “It got a little intense but I knew my defense, with Kenzie making those amazing catches, would back me up. I just needed to do my job.”
Kudrna and Clarke each had one of the Tigers’ three triples. Senior Claire Nibbe hit the third, which drove in a run in the fifth inning. Nibbe finished with two RBIs in the game.
Warriors sophomore Alex Dufour doubled in a run and came around to score to make the game close in the seventh. With the tying run on first, the Warriors nearly tied the game on a deep fly ball but Kudrna’s running catch ended the game.
Though the Warriors hit the ball well trying to mount a comeback, freshman shortstop Mae Mitchell said it wasn’t enough to overcome several big defensive plays by the Tigers.
“I just think they hit a little bit earlier and we didn’t,” Mitchell said. “When we hit at the end, they just made some good plays.”
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Warriors.
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Erie 5, Frederick 4
At Frederick H.S.
Erie (11-4, 8-2) 100 210 1 — 5 9 1
Frederick (9-6, 8-2) 000 020 2 — 4 7 1
W — Clarke.
Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Nibbe 4-0-2-2, Natal 0-1-0-0, Glaze 4-0-1-0, Grenier 3-0-1-1, Foster 3-0-1-1, Romey 1-1-0-0, Kudrna 4-2-2-0, Maul 4-0-1-0, Steinhauer 2-0-0-0, Clarke 3-0-1-0, Ochoa 2-1-0-0. Totals 30-5-9-4. 2B — Maul. 3B — Nibbe, Kudrna, Clarke. SB — Kudrna.
Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Jackson 1-0-0-0, Mitchell 4-0-1-0, Nelson 3-0-1-2, Moore 3-0-0-0, Martinez 1-0-0-0, Villani 3-0-1-0, Hoffmann 3-0-1-1, Hall 2-0-0-0, Colaiano 0-0-0-0. Totals 20-0-4-3. 3B — Mitchell, Nelson.
Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Clarke 7-7-4-4-3-3.
Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hoffmann 4-5-3-2-1-2, Villani 3-4-2-2-1-2.