Soldotna rallies late to edge out Mariners

Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Soldotna girls softball team scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Homer 8-7 on Tuesday in Northern Lights Conference action in Homer.

Soldotna's comeback from a 7-5 deficit entering the seventh inning kept the Stars alive for a second-straight berth to the small-schools state softball tournament.

The top two teams in the three-team NLC make the trip to state. Kodiak has already clinched the top spot. SoHi, with a 1-4 conference record, and Homer, at 2-3, are fighting it out for the second spot.

The state berth will be decided at 6 p.m. Friday in Sodotna, when the Stars and Mariners conclude their regular seasons against each other.

If the two conference games the teams have played thus far are any indication, fans should prepare for some thrilling action. Homer won the first game 8-7 with a comeback in the seventh, while SoHi returned the favor Tuesday.

"I think I had a heart attack about 18 times," SoHi coach Dave Cleveland said. "What a game. It was tooth and nail the whole way."

Homer had a 6-1 lead entering the fourth inning before Briana VinZant, Lacey Norman and Lydia Forbes had RBI singles to make the score 6-4.

In the fifth, Emily Smola scored on an RBI by Savannah Hegge to cut the lead to 6-5.

Homer got a run back in the bottom of the fifth before Soldotna came back in the seventh. Alisah Kress, running for Hannah Romberg, Smola and Amandra Cobb scored the runs in the seventh on errors or passed balls.

"It was great base-running," Cleveland said. "The pressure was on."

In the bottom of the seventh, with one down, a Homer batter sent a smash to the gap in right-center field. Center fielder Megan Hardy collected the ball and threw a dart to shortstop Mariah Darrow to thwart the attempted double.

"To me, it was like a SportsCenter moment," Cleveland said.

Hegge pitched all seven innings for Soldotna, giving up just two earned runs and four hits while striking out seven.

Smola was 3-for-4, while VinZant and Forbes were 2-for-4.

Cleveland said he is proud of the girls for pulling out a one-run game after losing three one-run games in conference.

"To me, this is a turning-point game," he said.

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