MAYFIELD - The game was tied at 5-5 going into the bottom of seventh inning, but from the looks on the girls' faces in the St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah dugout area, one could have mistaken them to be down by 10 runs.
St. JOE was frustrated. It hadn't advanced a runner in scoring position since the fourth inning, and the cheers and momentum from the Mayfield dugout was growing.
But before coach Dan Hart let his girls sulk their way back on the diamond, he put some life in his team that has yet to lose a game all year.
St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah’s Amanda Halpin (17) dives safely back into third base as Brooke Zimmermann gathers the ball for the tag during the fourth inning of a WAC North game at Mayfield High School. St. JOE won 8-6 in 10 innings and improved to 9-0 on the season. (The Leader-Herald/Erich Neuhaus)
"We're the 8-0 team, not them. We've been in these situations before. We pride ourselves on defense," he said.
That ended up being St. JOE's rallying cry.
With Kristen Lansburg in the circle and the girls bearing the royal blue Oppenheim-Ephratah "Hawks" jerseys behind her, they weathered through a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh, and played error free eighth and ninth innings until their bats erupted for three runs in the 10th to pull out the 8-6 victory at Mayfield High School on Monday.
"These girls fight," Hart said, whose team improved to 9-0 on the year. "The only thing they don't like to do is lose. They don't go down without a fight, and it showed today."
The only fight St. JOE could give was on defense because Mayfield pitcher Ashlee Frazier was just plain dealing. The senior retired St. JOE in order from the fifth inning until the 10th, including striking out the side in the eighth.
Lansburg was just as good for St. JOE. In extras, she struck out the first two batters in the eighth and in the ninth received some nice defense on a running catch in center field by Amanda Halpin and a pair of nice stops by Kelsey Johnson at second, including the final out in the ninth where she ranged up the middle to stop the ball and tagged Anna Husain out before she reached second base.
In high school softball, a runner is placed on second base to start the 10th inning.
The runner on second, combined with Frazier losing a little zip on her fastball, ignited a stagnant St. JOE offense.
Julia Lull led off the inning by doubling home Victoria Hamm from second base to give St. JOE its first lead since 5-4 in the fourth inning. A wild pitch moved Lull to third and a Jaylene Stowell plated the captain with a ground out to third. The inning continued with Emily Chrisman, who struggled with four strikeouts on the day until that point, tripled to right field, and later scored to make it 8-5 on a Johnson single.
"Julia Lull gave us that spark that we needed; gave us that one-run lead," Hart said.
Mayfield could only manufacture a run in the 10th, as a Lansburg wild pitch moved Whitney Ostrander over to third before being brought home on a Nicole Little ground out to third.
Lansburg struck out two in the inning, including the final out.
Both pitchers struck out 14 in the game, but the difference came with the walks. Frazier walked six before settling down in the fifth, while Lansburg walked only two.
Of the six Frazier walks, three of them scored, while the other two that scored reached base on errors.
"She's pretty good all the time," Mayfield coach Marcie Jordan said about Frazier, who didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning. "It's just walks sometime that hurt us."
Lansburg allowed seven hits and four runs through the first three innings, and then scattered four hits and two runs the rest of the way. Hart said her fastball wasn't as effective as it usually was on Monday, but she made up for it with a knee buckling changeup.
"Anytime we have Lansburg on our mound we have a chance to win," Hart said.
Mayfield tried taking a the lead in the sixth when Sam Manoogian singled home Little to tie the game at 5-5, but Lisa Hime, who followed Little around third, was thrown out at home from Madsen in right field.
Mayfield left nine runners on base during the game.
"Not one of our better games for hitting actually," Mayfield coach Marcie Jordan said. "Most of my big hitters really didn't do that well today, but we didn't do half bad. Exciting for a 10 inning game."
It sure was. The lead changed four times through four innings before the Lady Panthers tied it in the sixth.
Mayfield falls to 5-5 overall and 4-4 in WAC play and will travel to Berne-Knox-Westerlo on Wednesday.
St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah, which is off to its best start in combined program history and sit atop the WAC North Division, will travel to Schoharie on Friday.
"We just have to keep staying with it," Hart said.
St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah 8, Mayfield 6, 10 innings
St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah030 100 000 3 - 8 6 1
Mayfield202 001 000 1 - 6 11 2
Lansburg and Stowell; Frazier and J. Little.