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SOFTBALL: Big Spring sends Greencastle-Antrim to 3rd straight defeat

GREENCASTLE >> With both teams battling for seeding position in the upcoming District 3 Class AAA softball tournament, Big Spring and Greencastle-Antrim played quite a tight game Tuesday afternoon.

The Bulldogs emerged with a 3-1 victory in Mid Penn Colonial Division action.

G-A (11-7, 5-3 MPC) entered the game sixth in the latest district power rankings, while Big Spring (13-6, 4-5 MPC) was holding down the 11th spot. The top 16 teams earn spots in the tournament.

"We always have a battle with Greencastle," Big Spring coach Mike Gutshall said. "They're a great team and Mark (DeCarli) is a great coach. We're still thinking of the possibility that we might be able to get a home game in districts, so this win was very important for us."

"We're in a little funk right now – we've lost three in a row," DeCarli said. "We played pretty solid and stung the ball a bunch today. We're going to turn this around. Good teams turn slumps around and go the right direction."

The Blue Devils trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth when they loaded the bases on a pair of errors and a single by Liz Ward with one out to bring Erin Bontrager to the plate. Bontrager smashed an 0-1 offering from Bulldog hurler Mackenzie Brymesser right at shortstop Michayla Roberts, who snagged it and fired to third to complete a double play.

"I was a little nervous, but had a lot of confidence in our defense," Brymesser said. "That ball was hit well, but Michayla is a great fielder and she made a good play."

Brymesser went the distance to pick up the victory and she allowed five hits and one walk with one strikeout. She threw strikes on 53 of her 81 pitches.

"Mackenzie doesn't strike out a lot of batters, but she gets a lot of ground balls and pop-ups," Gutshall said. "And I have a lot of confidence in our defense to make plays behind her."

Big Spring broke on top in the top of the third when Kelsi Minich hit a sac fly to plate Brooklyn Wagner after Wagner had led off the inning by slashing a triple to the gap in right-center.

The Bulldogs tallied twice in the fourth to bump their lead to 3-0 with Brymesser singling home Roberts after she had singled and stole second. Juvy Orillaza replaced Brymesser as a courtesy runner and trotted home from third when Karley Kann doubled to right-center.

Brymesser retired the first 10 batters she faced before issuing her only walk, a one-out free pass to Morgan Wagaman. Ally Brown singled Wagaman to second and she came home to score when Katie Gelsinger looped a single into center, giving the Devils runners on first and second with one down.

However, Brymesser induced pop outs from the next two hitters to escape with the lead intact.

Greencastle threatened again in the fifth when the Devils had runners on the corners with two down following singles by Bontrager and Ali Sherman, but Brymesser once again wriggled off the hook by inducing a pop out.

Brown was tough in defeat for the Devils – she allowed three runs and eight hits with one strikeout and one walk.

DeCarli said, "We're trying to get to districts. That's all we're trying to do right now. Because I know that if we get in, we'll be a problem for whoever has to play us."

Big Spring 3, Greencastle 1

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W — Mackenzie Brymesser; L — Ally Brown (4-6).

LOB — BS 7, GA 6; 2B — (BS) Karley Kann; 3B — (BS) Brooklyn Wagner; SB — (BS) Mikala Gutshall.

T — 1:42.