MARTINS FERRY - Yogi Berra once said, and many others have repeated it often, that it's never over until it's over.
The Martins Ferry girls' softball team is a big believer of that well-used phrase. The Purple Riders rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally past Brooke, 4-3, on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon high atop the Purple City in the opener of a doubleheader. They completed the sweep with a 5-2 decision in the nightcap
Trailing 3-2, the hosts scored both runs with the Bruins' help. Katie Sutherland smacked a leadoff single to right to jump-start the rally. Kelsey Spielvogel's liner to the right side of the infield was a tailor-made double play as Sutherland was running on contact, but the ball glanced off the second baseman's glove as both runners were safe. Krissy Hotlosz bunted both runners up a base, setting up a wild ending.
MARTINS FERRY shortstop Tyrah King prepares to throw to first for an out during the first inning of Saturday’s game against Brooke. The Lady Riders swept a doubleheader. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Brooklyn Monroe, the Purple Riders' leadoff hitter, battled through a 9-pitch at-bat before hitting a comebacker to Brooke pitcher Kaylie Kuchinski, who alertly caught Sutherland in a rundown, but after several back-and-forth throws, no one covered the plate as Sutherland raced home with the tying run.
Kuchinski's very next pitch was in the dirt and skipped away as Spielvogel came in to score the winning run, which ignited a Purple celebration at the plate.
"I think I got a few gray hairs during that one," Martins Ferry head coach Paige Williams said of the wild comeback. "We needed that one.
"That was really big on Katie's part," Williams said. "She's been aggressive on the bases all year. In practice, she's the one that we joke about getting into a rundown. I guess it paid off today."
Brooke took the early lead with a run in the top of the third. Isabella Preston singled leading off and went to second on a groundout. Sabrina Duffy's slap single to the right side of the infield moved Preston to third. She would sprint home on a Michaela Hinerman groundout for a 1-0 lead.
Martins Ferry answered right back when Spielvogel singled to right leading off. Hotlosz laid down another sacrifice bunt, but this time the throw sailed down the rightfield line as Spielvogel sped to third. Hotlosz was gunned down trying for second, but Morgan Stalder's infield single plated Spielvogel to even things.
The Bruins regained the advantage, 2-1, when Cassi Camilletti's single knocked in Taylor Simala in the fourth, but the Purple Riders drew even once again, thanks to some help along the way.
Tyrah King walked leading off and went to third on Mercedez McLeod's single to left-center. King would then score on a wild pitch for a 2-2 reading.
Camilletti's solo home run to right leading off the sixth put the West Virginians back ahead, 3-2. However, things could've potentially got worse for the hosts as Brooke had runners on first and second with one out. Duffy slapped a blooper to shallow center that King, Ferry's shortstop, had a bead on only to collide with the Bruins' baserunner. After some deliberation between the umpires, it was ruled runner interference for the second out. The batter was also called out, ending the inning.
"That was a weird game all the way around," Williams noted. "But it ended up the right way for us."
IN the second game, King blasted a two-run homer in the first inning and finished with three RBI.
McLeod and Webb added RBI in a three-run third.
Preston homered for Brooke, while Camilletti doubled.
Martins Ferry hosts Steubenville Monday.