Geneva softball ends messy game with mega-comeback

GENEVA – On a day when the Geneva softball team’s defense scuffled early and often, the pendulum swung the other way in time to assist another rousing Vikings comeback.

Batavia’s defense shined most of the game before unraveling in the bottom of the seventh as Geneva scored six runs to storm back for a 9-8 win against the rival Bulldogs.

“For all of our defensive mistakes, we really lucked out,” Geneva sophomore Rachel Fanella said. “Usually we’re a lot stronger in the field. It was one of our weaker games, for sure, but I’m glad that we pulled it together for the win and got the hits at the end.”

Wednesday marked the Vikings’ second winning rally from six runs back in five days.

Geneva trailed by six in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Kaneland before exploding late in a game they also won, 9-8. 

“We should find some faith and some confidence from that, that we’re not out of games, even if we fall behind,” Geneva coach Greg Dierks said. “It is a great quality to have. And the girls were up there hacking in the last inning. I thought, really, we had quality at-bats, even the outs that we had.”

The Vikings (8-4, 3-2 Upstate Eight Conference River) trailed the Bulldogs, 8-3, entering the bottom of the seventh. Four hits, a walk and three Batavia errors in the bottom of the seventh flipped the anticipated outcome.

Fanella, who pitched the final two innings in relief of Geneva starter Emily Plocinski, came to bat with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the bases loaded and Geneva trailing, 8-7.

Fanella lofted a flyball toward the right-field line that Bulldogs right fielder Tara Zufan was unable to squeeze, and the winning runs dashed home.

The entire bottom of the seventh was difficult to swallow for Batavia (4-9, 2-4 UEC River).

“We had them on the ropes, but hey, the game’s never over until you get that final out,” Batavia coach Lupe Castellanos said. “You can’t ever be comfortable until you get the final out. We had some plays there at the end that we didn’t make. You’ve got to give Geneva credit. They put the ball in play and they made some stuff happen.”

The Vikings committed eight errors on the day. Batavia played a clean defensive game until the costly miscues at the end. 

“Really Batavia outplayed us for the vast majority of the game,” Dierks said. “I feel bad in a way for Lupe. They probably deserved to win today.”

In Fanella’s first inning in the circle – the top of the sixth – she escaped a bases loaded, one-out predicament with the meat of the Bulldogs’ order due up, pitcher Rachael Lovestrand and cleanup hitter Natalie Offutt.

“I think I kept them mostly under control,” Fanella said. “I threw all mine to the spots that I was told to throw them to. Even though it was the 3 and the 4, I think I had pretty good control over where my pitches were going.”

Batavia regrouped to tack on a pair of unearned runs in the top of the seventh to stretch its lead to five runs.

“I think we played good,” Lovestrand said. “I think we got ahead of ourselves. … We kind of fell apart, but it’s OK. We’ll get them next time.”

Five of Batavia’s runs came in the top of the fifth as the Bulldogs jumped to a 6-0 lead. Batavia’s five-run inning required only two hits, one of which was a bases loaded double from junior third baseman Christina Karius. 

Bulldogs leadoff hitter Ryanne Rokos led off the game with a triple and scored on an RBI single from Toni Galas. Rokos had two hits and reached on two errors.

Freshman third baseman Molly Wrenn continued to swing a hot bat for Geneva, going 2 for 3 with a double, two RBIs and a walk. Vikings first baseman Annika Radabaugh went 2 for 4 and contributed a two-run double as Geneva scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut its deficit in half.