When the final out was made around 2 a.m. Sunday, The Lady Raiders were all smiles as they hoisted their champion’s trophy after defeating Silverdale Baptist Academy, 4-1.
“This was definitely a confidence booster. Given the three hour delay earlier that morning that pushed all the games back to a later start time,” said Cleveland coach Connie Stobert.
Cleveland reached the championship game after two wins over Red Bank before pulling off a victory in a classic battle against Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.
The Lady Raiders battled the Lady Patriots to a scoreless tie for five innings, missing out on a chance to put the game away in the bottom half of the fifth.
Cleveland put two runners on base with singles by Brittany Arnold and Mikaela Clements, but could not capitalize pushing the game to the sixth inning and the international tiebreaker.
The Lady Patriots took advantage of two Cleveland errors and a single to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the inning.
But, the Lady Raiders were not ready to call it a night. With Kayla Lee standing on second, Karli Bledsoe reached on a Patriots’ error. Carly Frost then loaded the bases beating out an infield single. Another CSAS miscue sent Lee and Bledsoe home to make it 3-2. The third Patriots’ bobble of the inning scored Frost home to tie the game at 3-3.
From there, the teams battled to the bottom of the eighth where Cleveland locked up the win on Nanea Haruo’s game-winning single over third base to score Frost.
Frost also got the win for the Lady Raiders. The freshman went the distance striking out nine Patriots, gave up a single walk and no earned runs on three hits.
“This was a huge game for us. It was definitely a pitcher’s duel. The CSAS pitcher was a great pitcher and we struggled making contact with the movement she had on her pitches,” said Stobert. ”It came down to the tie breaker and us simply putting the ball in play to make something happen. It finally paid off.
Lady Raiders 4,
Lady Hurricanes 1
Battling fatigue and mental exhaustion, Cleveland took to the diamond one final time with a shot at the winner’s trophy. In what could be considered a bit anticlimactic finale, the Lady Raiders walked off the field exhausted, but victorious with a 4-1 win over the Lady Hurricanes.
Freshman Haley Hodgson took to the circle and delivered a yeoman’s performance giving up one run on four hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. Fellow freshman Kayla Lee came on to pitch the final two outs in the time limit game.
Abi Dye played a major role in the win going 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs.
“Her bat was hot this weekend,” said Stobert of the Lady Raider.
Frost went 1 for 2 in the win with Haruo a perfect 1 for 1 with an RBI and one run scored. Arnold was also 1 for 2 at the plate with a run scored.
“Before the game I told the girls that it was late and everyone was tired but the game would come down to who can fight through the exhaustion and stay mentally focused to execute plays,” said Stobert. “It has been a long time since this team has been in a winning position. The girls were determined to win and they deserved it. I am very proud. This is progress and improvement for us.”