The Bethlehem softball team couldn’t close out Section III champion Liverpool.
The Warriors rallied from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the Lady Eagles 8-7 in extra innings in the Class AA regionals Friday, June 6, at the Malta Recreation Complex.
“It was unexpected and heartbreaking, of course,” said Bethlehem coach Karen Gentile. “The kids fought hard, but they weren’t able to close it out.”
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Lady Eagles scored four times in the top of the second and added two more runs in the fifth to build their seven-run advantage. Carrie Maniccia drove in three of Bethlehem’s runs.
Liverpool clawed its way back into the game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and two more in the sixth. Then in the seventh inning, the Warriors got their first two batters on base with walks, and they scored on RBI groundouts to tie the score at 7-7.
Liverpool’s first two batters were retired in order in the bottom of the eighth, but an error kept the inning alive. Two batters later, Jenna Wilke drove in the game-winning run on a single.
Bethlehem racked up 15 hits against Liverpool, but the Lady Eagles failed to drive in any insurance runs once the Warriors began their comeback. Maniccia led Bethlehem with four hits, and Sarah Homsey added three hits and a pair of runs. Everyone in the Lady Eagles’ lineup had at least one hit.
The regional loss ended another strong playoff run for Bethlehem. The Lady Eagles reached the regionals for the second time since 2011, and they’ve appeared in four of the last five Section 2 Class AA finals.
Bethlehem graduates Maniccia and Meagan Sullivan from this year’s team, but everyone else will be back for the 2015 season.
“Immediately after, you had to feel bad for the seniors, but the younger girls were already saying ‘remember this feeling next year,’” said Gentile.