HOUSTON – Chartiers-Houston head softball coach Tricia Alderson had never seen anything quite like it.
Despite her team surrendering six runs in the top of the first inning, her starting pitcher walking 14 batters and the Bucs’ defense committing three errors, Chartiers-Houston recorded 15 hits on their way to a wild 17-12 victory Tuesday over Section 2-AA rival Beth-Center at Allison Park.
“That was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen,” Alderson said. “We need to clean some things up on defense, but offensively, I’m extremely pleased with what we did.”
The Bucs’ usually effective starting pitcher, junior Kassie Kesneck, struggled with location throughout the game and found herself in trouble early when she walked six batters in the first inning, including three she hit with her fastball.
Although Beth-Center (3-1, 3-3) only recorded one hit in the inning, the Bulldogs scored six runs and left three runners on base. Kesneck threw 40 pitches and faced 12 batters before a strikeout ended the inning.
While eight of Chartiers-Houston’s nine hitters recorded at least one hit, it was one hitter in particular that helped the Bucs (2-1, 4-3) overcome Kesneck’s struggles in the circle.
Senior catcher Haley Sutton went 3-for-5 with two home runs and five runs batted in. While her team had every reason to buckle after an early six-run deficit, it was Sutton’s bat that had Chartiers-Houston’s players in the dugout on their feet.
Sutton’s two-run double in the first brought the Bucs to within four runs. Kesneck, freshman Kayla Alderson, and freshman Kayla Elliot followed with hits as Chartiers-Houston scored seven runs in the bottom of the first to take a one-run lead. After a wild first inning, Kesneck settled down by holding Beth-Center scoreless in the second and third innings, but she walked four batters and gave up a hit in the fourth, when the Bulldogs added three runs to close to within 13-9.
The Bucs scored four runs in the second and two in both the third and fourth innings. Thanks to Sutton’s last two plate appearances, Chartiers-Houston would not let go of the lead. The catcher launched a two-run homer over the fence in left-center field in the fourth inning and added a solo shot in the sixth to give her team the insurance it needed on a day filled with uncertainty.
“That was definitely the highest-scoring game I’ve ever been a part of,” Sutton said. “We’ve played in close games before, but never when we came back from six runs like that. This is a new team, so we’ve had some jitters early in games, but we really came together.”
Sutton’s RBIs proved to be critical when Beth-Center threatened late in the game. After adding runs in the fifth and sixth innings, the Bulldogs made it interesting in the seventh. While Beth-Center had just six hits in the game, drawing walks and timely baserunning helped them compete with the Bucs’ offensive success.
“The next time we play them, we’ll be ready,” Beth-Center head coach Trissa Gustovich said. “We made mistakes out there, but the great thing about this team is they understand those mistakes and are great about fixing them quickly. I’m really proud of the way we hung in there.”
After a groundout to lead off the seventh inning, Bulldogs senior Torin Fisher hit a double over Alderson’s head in center field and scored two batters later on a RBI-single by Caitlyn Kanalis, cutting the deficit to five, but that was as close as B-C would get.
Despite her early struggles, Kesneck earned the win for the Bucs, who are looking to repeat as section champions.
“(Kesneck) definitely battled today and I’m really proud of the way she handled it,” Alderson said. “She was obviously struggling and could have easily hung her head after that first inning, but she didn’t.”