It looked like top-seeded Pleasant Valley (16-8) would have just enough gas to down defending champion Liberty in the District 11 Class AAAA softball semifinals, but the Hurricanes woke up in the top of the seventh to score five runs and down the Bears 6-2.
Pleasant Valley had earned the top seed by virtue of winning the Mountain Valley Conference, but knew that Liberty (15-7) wouldn't go easily.
Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but the Bears came right back and put up a two-spot in the bottom of the inning. Pleasant Valley took advantage of an error by Liberty and used hits from Katie Lenhart and Tracey Deubler to plate their two runs and scratch out a 2-1 lead going to the fifth inning.
From there, the two pitchers - Liberty's Lauren Epsaro and Pleasant Valley's Rikki Correll - both seemed to be in control. In fact, neither pitcher allowed an earned run, with both teams scoring all their runs thanks to errors.
Liberty's seventh inning rally started with an error and the first run of the inning scored on another fielding error. Correll bounced back and got Epsaro to pop-up for the second out of the inning and the Bears could see their way out of the jam. Liberty added an RBI double and then the third error of the inning allowed another run to score as the Hurricanes extended their lead to 6-2.
Epsaro dominated in the bottom of the seventh. In fact, Epsaro, who allowed just four hits in the game, didn't allow a hit after the Bears pushed across their two fourth-inning runs.
"When you're playing at this level, you can't make as many mistakes as we did tonight," said Pleasant Valley coach Steve Caffrey. "Their pitching was good and they made some mistakes too, but we just didn't capitalize on them as much as we needed to."
Correll wound up allowing nine hits, but didn't walk a batter and struck out four in the game. Pleasant Valley could manage just four hits against Epsaro, who also didn't allow any walks and struck out four hitters.
"She gave up some hits, but without all of the errors that we made, she would have been okay," said Caffrey of Correll's outing.
Liberty 000 100 5 - 6 9 3
Pleasant Vy. 000 200 0 - 2 4 4
Epsaro and Malek; Correll and Caffrey. W - Epsaro, L - Correll