Corning edges Manila with late three-run rally

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Manila's Jordyn Wheeler fights off an inside pitch and lines a single to left field in the Lady Lions' district tournament game Tuesday at Corning.
(Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

It took two days to decide a winner between Manila and Corning in their first round matchup of the 3A District Softball Tournament at Corning. The Lady Lions and the host Bobcats began play Tuesday afternoon and battled to a 3-3 tie before darkness halted play after five innings. The two squads resumed action Wednesday morning and played two scoreless innings before Manila grabbed a 5-3 advantage, picking up two runs in the top of the eighth inning. But the Lady Bobcats answered, scoring three runs in the bottom of the frame to hand the Lady Lions a heartbreaking 6-5 defeat, ending Manila’s season.

The top of the eighth began with the international tie breaker rule in effect. The last batter of the previous inning starts on second base. First batter up for the Lady Lions, Jordyn Wheeler, got a bunt single, moving Sasha Pannells to third. Courtesy runner Madison Bibbs promptly stole second base, putting runners at second and third. Ashley Rothwell delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI fielder’s choice grounder to first, as Bibbs advanced to third on the throw to the plate. Tessa Pannells followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Bibbs to give Manila a 5-3 lead.

After Corning began with a runner at second, the first batter up lined a base hit off Manila shortstop Ashlyn Jolly’s glove. A Bobcat single loaded the bases with no outs. After a pop-out to right fielder Jill Helton, Manila pitcher Jordyn Wheeler was called for an illegal pitch, allowing Corning to score a run, slicing the Lady Lion lead to 5-4. The next batter drilled a single up the middle, scoring the tying and game winning runs, sending the Lady Bobcats to the regional tournament.

Lady Lion right fielder Jill Helton races in to snag a pop up during Manila's district tournament matchup with Corning. The Lady Bobcats squeezed past Manila in extra innings.

“We had our opportunities,” said Manila Coach Craig Wheeler. “We left too many runners on base and made a few errors that ended up hurting us. This group of seniors has been a special bunch. They have helped turn our program around in their four years here. They achieved a conference co-championship and won the district tournament title as well. They made both the regional and state tournaments the last two years, winning a state tournament game for the first time in our program’s history. They have helped make softball at Manila competitive and respectable. We have a great group coming back next year.”

Rorthwell led Manila at the plate, singling three times while driving in a pair of runs. Wheeler also had three hits while Tessa Pannells singled, doubled and had two RBI. Ali Smith singled and scored once while Taylor Hampton and Helton both cracked base hits. Bibbs scored three times.

Wheeler pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up six runs, only two of which were earned. The senior righthander allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked two.

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