The progress made by the Pennsylvania Rebellion this season should be measured in baby steps, tiny little baby steps.
It’s a good analogy for this National Pro Fastpitch softball team because at the end of those tentative steps forward, the baby usually tumbles the short distance to the floor.
The Rebellion (5-23) managed to wipe away an early three-run deficit against Akron Thursday at Consol Energy Park only to collapse in the seventh inning, allowing two runs that gave the Racers a 5-3 victory.
It was the seventh loss in a row for the Rebellion and 11th in the last 12 games.
The good part of this game was erasing a 3-0 deficit with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The bad part has been a recurring problem with this team, leaving runners on base. In last night’s game, the Rebellion left a whopping 13, including the bases loaded in the first and sixth innings.
“I’m not as bothered leaving a runner on first, but it’s leaving those runners on second and third bases that will keep us putting up (losses),” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “I think we’re getting there. A little more time, and I expect to see us bust open.”
Seven of those 13 runners were left in scoring position, stopping the Rebellion from taking control of the game. Akron (14-16) did that by scoring three times in the third inning off Dallas Escobedo.
Right fielder Ayumi Karino hit a one-out single to left, the first hit off Escobedo in the game, and left-fielder Jill Barrett lashed a triple down the right field line to score Karino. Nerissa Myers walked and Charlotte Morgan singled in Barrett to make it 2-0. Myers scored on a sacrifice fly to right by designated hitter Jessica Garcia.
The Rebellion chipped away with a run in the fourth on a single by left fielder Brittney Lindley that scored Breezy Hamilton to make it 3-1 and in the fifth on a solo home run by Courtney Liddle off Akron starter Rachele Fico to draw the Rebellion to within one.
Liddle’s home run was the fourth of the season and first for the team at Consol Energy Park since Lindley hit one in a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Bandits June 19.
“Yeah, I knew it was gone,” said Liddle. “It was a 3-1 count, a hitter’s count, and she has to come to you. I was swinging regardless, and she gave me a good pitch.”
The Rebellion tied the game in the sixth when second baseman Lauren Lappin drew a one-out walk and was sacrificed to second by shortstop Bianca Mejia. Liddle walked and Mandy Ogle beat out an infield single to load the bases. Third baseman Jenn Salling hit a slow roller to the shortstop that she beat out for a hit and scored Lappin. Nicole Morgan bounced out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Escobedo gave up a one-out single to second baseman Ashley Thomas and Karino sacrificed her to third base. Jill Barrett drove Thomas home with a single to right and she came around to score on a single Myers that drove Escobedo from the game and an illegal pitch by reliever Sarah Pauly.
“We battled back against the Pride last week in our TV game,” Barrett said. “This team doesn’t give up.”
Escobedo saw her record fall to 1-7 after giving up seven hits and five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
“They are all great hitters here,” she said. “(In the seventh), I was just trying to get ground balls. It’s the seventh inning, and they were up there hacking.”
Escobedo says there is some pressure and expectations that come with being the top pick in this year’s draft, but she tries not to let it affect her pitching.
“I stick with my game,” she said. “I’m learning every hitter, and there are a lot of great hitters here.”
Attendance was 824 … Belle Veal, a 93-year-old Bethel Park resident, was at her first Rebellion game. Veal grew up on Pittsburgh’s North Side and was an infielder on her community softball team in the 1930s when only the pitcher and catcher had gloves on the team. … The Rebellion have three days off and resume the four-game homestand against Akron Monday.