Jill Barron admitted she was quite nervous entering Friday's Schuylkill League matchup with Panther Valley.
Over the first three innings, there was every reason for the Tamaqua softball coach to be every bit of anxious with the back-and-forth contest that was evolving.
After Barron made it apparent to her team she wasn't happy with the lead they were holding onto entering the final inning, the Raiders put together a huge four-run inning in the seventh to pull away for a 9-3 victory.
"The seventh inning was a big inning for us," Barron said. "I'm glad they didn't slack off. I just went in there and said, 'A three run lead isn't big enough for us.' I wasn't comfortable with that. I was a little nervous with that.
"I really wanted them to pull it out and give us a little more of a cushion."
Brianna Wittig started off the seventh with a triple down the right field line. Taylor Fritz followed by delivering a RBI-single, which scored Wittig. Juliette Reinhardt reached on a throwing error and then both her and Fritz advanced moved up a base on a wild pitch.
Barron decided to put in Carly Sassaman in to pinch-hit for teammate April Donnon. With a two-two count, Sassaman sat back on a Sam Zlock offering and drilled it deep into right field. Sassaman hustled around the bases and crossed home plate with a three-run homer to help calm her coach's nerves in seconds.
"I had a talk here in the end, and I said, "Those of you who don't start, and are on the bench, that doesn't mean you are a nobody," Barron said. "When I call on you, you have to get the job done and Carly Sassaman did one fine of a job. She did her job today.
"She has been struggling from an injury and sickness so far this season and I'm just really happy that she got that big hit."
Sassaman may have had the biggest hit of the game, but Wittig, Fritz and Reinhardt also finished with multiple hits for the Blue Raiders (2-2 overall; 1-0 SL). Wittig ended with a single, triple and two runs scored, while Fritz and Reinhardt both had two singles and two runs scored.
On the other end, it wasn't the way Panther Valley head coach Jim Hull wanted to see his team continue with its third straight loss. It turned out to be another lesson learned for the Panthers (0-3; 0-2 SL), however.
"The one thing we have talked about in the past that keeps going with us is one person makes an error and then it kind of snowballs," Hull said. "That's one thing we were talking about after the game, which it just seemed just to snowball and it was hard for the girls to get over errors and mistakes they made".
Kristyn Gates finished with two singles for the Panthers.
Tamaqua 112 010 4 – 9 10 2
Panther Vy. 110 001 0 – 3 5 5
Pedersen and Boyer; Zlock and Rodriguez. W – Pedersen. L – Zlock. HR: Tamaqua – Sassaman (7th, two on).