---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
TURBOTVILLE -- It looked as though Warrior Run and Southern Columbia were ticketed for extra innings with how well their defenses played Tuesday.
Gabby Shrawder had other ideas.
With a 2-1 count in the bottom of the seventh, the Defenders leadoff batter dug in her heels and took a swing. All the senior center fielder was hoping for with two outs was to keep the inning going.
As soon as she made contact, Warrior Run coach Garth Watson began jumping up and down in the third-base coach's box as he watched the ball soar. He seemed to instantly know it was gone, and sure enough it was.
The homer -- Shrawder's second of the game -- kept the Defenders undefeated on the season with a 3-2 win over new HAC-II foe Southern Columbia in the anticipated game that featured two state finalists from last season.
"Yeah, we knew (it was going to be tough), especially since they made it to the state championship last year (in Class A), and so did we (in Class AA)," said Warrior Run ace Taylor Parker, who had 10 strikeouts. "I knew it was going to be a battle."
Warrior Run (7-0) couldn't get its bats going early, stranding a runner in each of the first three innings against the Tigers (4-3).
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Carra Rishel hit a nice single down the left-field line and advanced to third base on a fielding error. Laura Bastian then put down a bunt along third-base line which Southern Columbia pitcher Mallory Tomaschik fielded and turned into a great play to catch Rishel in a rundown and prevent a run.
Two batters later, Shrawder hit her first home run of the game, a deep shot to left-center field that scored Bastian and tied the game at 2-all.
"Whenever you get a runner on third with no outs, you have to get her in," Watson said. "You have to manufacture that run one way or another. It was huge, her coming up with the big hit. She came through clutch for us.
"It's nice with the balance. The top carried the middle and the bottom (of lineup). They just weren't running on all cylinders, but it wasn't so much as what we were doing wrong but what Tomaschik did right in the circle. She pitched a phenomenal game."
Tomaschik also recorded 10 strikeouts and gave up just three hits through the first four innings.
"When she's on, she's pretty tough. She's got a good change-up; she's got a screwball; she throws a curve and stuff like that. She has some heat. Mal's done a good job for us," Southern Columbia coach Al Cihocki said. "I was just glad to see we hung in with them and we had the chance to win the ball game there. Couple hits here or there with people on and we're winning, but they played tough. They're a good team (and) good teams, that's how they beat you."
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead when Erin Yoder hit a double into shallow left field that brought home Blair Johnston, who reached safely on a double to the center field fence to lead off the second inning. Tomaschik then came through with an RBI double down the left-field line to score Kirstin Blass in the top of the fifth inning for a 2-0 lead.
Aside from those two spurts, the Tigers failed to sustain offense against Parker. Southern Columbia stranded a runner in each of the first five innings, failing to increase the lead. The Tigers collected six hits in the loss, five of which were doubles.
With Kim Reigle at third base in the top of the seventh, Blass flew out to deep left field. Reigle took off from third base, but Warrior Run left fielder Katy Swartz made a perfect throw from left to Parker, who quickly turned it and relayed it home to catcher Lynn Vermilya for an out that avoided the go-ahead score.
"The girls played great defense. Tay came up with that big strikeout here and there when we needed to with runners on, even with one out, and then we can do what we have to do (like) back the girls up a little in the infield and get that third out," Watson said. "We needed a big test like that. There's really no sense of urgency, but we did what we had to do on both sides here, especially late in the game."