Kaitlyn Wehrli fires toward home Saturday in the second game against Bartlett.
Photo by Matthew Carroll
Just as Soldotna’s offense began to come alive, unfortunately, so did the clouds.
SoHi’s three-run rally in the fourth inning knotted the second game of a doubleheader at three before Bartlett recaptured the lead in the fifth and held on for a rain-shortened 4-3 victory on Saturday.
The umpires appeared willing to wait roughly 10 minutes until the showers quelled, but Stars’ coach Dave Cleveland called it off himself, however painful it may have been.
“It was hard. It was tough. It was very hard to call the game. But safety’s first in the long run,” he said. “The way this field is laid out, it does get really slick with just a little (rain). I’d much rather take the loss than have somebody get hurt and maybe ruin their summer.”
Coming off losses of 13-0 and 10-0 to Chugiak on Friday and an 11-4 setback to Bartlett earlier Saturday, the Stars (5-12) were in desperate need of some runs against the Golden Bears the second time around.
It took a few innings, but they finally came through.
Trailing by three after Annie Marlow’s first-pitch double to right field scored a pair of runs, Soldotna’s Sierra Madden struck early herself, leading off the fourth with a well-struck first-pitch single back up the middle.
After stealing second and a walk to Kaitlyn Wehrli, Madden’s attempted theft of third resulted in an errant throw by catcher Corinne Kelly which rolled into the outfield, allowing both Madden and Werhli to score.
Shelly Barker then walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third when Vanessa Cleveland’s grounder ricocheted off the glove of pitcher Amy Seliger, delaying the throw to first and putting runners at the corners.
It was a costly mistake as Barker tied the game shortly after when she crossed the plate on a passed ball.
“Very good baserunning,” coach Cleveland said. “On the small error there we scored two, that’s what we were working for just taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes, making them pay for it in the long run.”
Seliger who earned the win after allowing four hits over five innings while fanning 10 and walking five scored on a Katie Steffens ground out in the fifth, giving Bartlett a 4-3 edge.
As the rain began to fall, Mariah Darrow opened the bottom of the inning with a double to deep left that rolled to the wall.
After two outs and multiple swap-outs for drier balls, Seliger walked Emily Smola before retiring Wehrli on a called strike three.
While the game might have been able to continue after a short delay, Cleveland didn’t want to take any chances.
“We called it. It was our decision,” he said. “It was very hard because I thought we were right on the edge, we were hitting the pitcher good. It was more of a safety factor with the mud and people sliding.”
Wehrli took the loss for the Stars after allowing three runs on five hits and six walks while striking out four over four innings of work.
Despite allowing the early runs, she was able to work out of jams in every inning, stranding a total of eight Bartlett baserunners.
“She’s very tired. I asked her to give me four good innings she did,” he said. “A little trouble at the top, relaxed at the bottom, came out of two tough ones where they had the bases loaded. She pitched well.”
And while Soldotna may be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention with two games remaining, Clevelend envisions a bright future.
“It’s very good progress. Better than last year. Our win-loss record may not show it, but we’re doing much better,” he explained. “We’re bringing in some of the big guns from Anchorage and we’re playing hard against them and competing against them. That’s our goal. And we’ll be playing them again next year.”
Matthew Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOLDEN BEARS 11, STARS 4, Game 1
Bartlett 610 220 0 11 6 1
Soldotna 000 130 0 4 7 2
Steffens and Kelley; Wehrli, Cleveland (5), Madden (6) and Madden. W Steffens. L Wehrli. 2B Soldotna: Gardner; 3B Gardner, Madden.
GOLDEN BEARS 4, STARS 3, 5 inn., Game 2
Bartlett 120 01 4 6 1
Soldotna 000 30 3 4 0
Seliger and Kelley; Wehrli, Cleveland (5) and Madden. W Seliger. L Cleveland. 2B Bartlett: Moss; Soldotna: Darrow. LOB Bartlett 8, Soldotna 6.
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