CUYAHOGA FALLS: A softball game that appeared to be all in favor of host Woodridge for five innings took a dramatic and surprising turn Thursday.
Some of the members of the winning team didn’t seem to believe the outcome.
“I think we did great, that’s what I think,” said a suddenly giddy Kaitlyn Fryberger after realizing that her Cuyahoga Falls team did indeed defeat Woodridge 6-5, completing a comeback from a 5-0 deficit. “I’m happy now. It was a good game, I guess.”
And Fryberger (7-10), a senior, was the winning pitcher and one of the hitting stars with three singles in four at-bats. The Black Tigers scored twice against the Bulldogs in the sixth inning and four times in the seventh for the unlikely nonleague win.
To be fair, there was no scoreboard tracking the sudden turn of events, and some spectators — and players — were not entirely sure what just happened.
And Cuyahoga Falls first-year coach Kori Brown said she prefers it that way.
“One of the things we try to do is keep the kids in the game without knowing the score,” Brown said. “They asked a couple times and we said we didn’t know. They didn’t even know what inning it was.
“When they came off the field, they didn’t realize it was the seventh inning. That really shows we’re a young team.”
Cuyahoga Falls (7-14) has seven freshmen on its roster, four of whom were in Thursday’s lineup. Maybe too young to know they are not expected to win games like this.
“Excellent game, excellent finish,” Brown said. “That’s exactly what we look for as a coaching staff is for them to finish the game and finish strong.”
So did most of the players not realize it was a winning effort?
“Apparently not, I don’t know,” Brown said. “But again, the more that we tell them, the more nervous they get, so that’s not a team that’s real comfortable with everything yet.”
Falls rallied in the sixth inning. Sophomore Kendra Bartoletta, Kimmie Carrell and freshman Callie Collins all singled to load the bases. Fryberger’s single to left scored courtesy runner Katie Peters, and a fielder’s choice grounder by sophomore Sabrina Mills scored Carrell to make it 5-2.
In the seventh, junior Hannah Shane led off with a single and freshman Allie Bennett walked. One out later, Carrell smacked her third hit, a two-run double to left center, and it was 5-4. Collins was hit by a pitch and Fryberger singled again to load the bases.
Carrell was forced out at home on a grounder to third baseman Samantha Oesterle for the second out. But freshman first baseman Kristy Fryberger singled to left, driving in Collins with the tying run. A fielder’s choice grounder by Ali Burns and a throwing error toward the plate brought in the go-ahead run.
Woodridge sophomore Samantha Schneider singled to start the seventh, and two outs later, freshman Taylor Goodyear was hit by a pitch. But Kaitlyn Fryberger induced a groundout to end the game.
“I think everyone was getting down when we losing 5-0,” said Carrell, a sophomore catcher. “There’s seven innings and you’ve got to use every single one of them to win the game. And we had a very good inning.”
Woodridge (5-16) finds itself in rebuilding mode after losing all but two starters, including star pitcher Amy Donze, from last year’s 27-3 team that made it to the Division II regional.
“We’re a young team,” Woodridge coach Dan Schneider said. “We’re getting better and better, but it seems like we don’t know how to rebound. We told them they’ve got to have a short memory. We’re still fretting about the play we didn’t make before.”
The two returnees teamed up for two runs in the first as Oesterle, a junior, tripled and sophomore pitcher Schneider followed with a home run.
In the fourth, freshman Shayla Williams singled and scored on Mikayla Johns’ two-out fielder’s choice for a 3-0 lead. A two-run triple by freshman Kylie Gregory gave the Bulldogs a seemingly safe 5-0 lead in the fifth.
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