Mack girls edge the Huskies in 10-inning NCS thriller

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – McKinleyville’s Allie Egbert reacts after making a play in center field during Friday’s game.

By Ray Hamill — It took 10 innings and three hours to finally separate McKinleyville and Fortuna in a thrilling North Coast Section Division-4 softball playoff game at Mack High on Friday.

Senior Allie Egbert finally broke broke the deadlock on a walk-off RBI base hit in the bottom of the third extra inning to give the home team a 6-5 victory, their fourth in four games against the Huskies in 16 days.

But they had to battle against a resilient Fortuna team that came so close to winning a second extra-inning playoff road game in just three days.

The Panthers, who hadn’t played in over a week after getting a forfeit win in their playoff opener, also had to overcome some mistakes and a five-error performance.

“It definitely was not our best game,” head coach Shanna McCracken said. “But they never gave up and fought all the way through.”

It was a highly-entertaining back-and-forth affair, with little to separate the two Big 5 rivals.

The home team broke the early deadlock in the bottom of the third inning on a Camryn Pinard RBI double and they would lead 2-1 going into the fifth.

The Huskies, however, responded with a three-run home run by Kelsie Hall that scored Libby Johnston and Kylee Fennell, each of whom reached base on a base hit.

The game was just warming up and the Panthers would respond with a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings, the first on a Trinity Preston RBI single and the second on a Kennedy Minton RBI base hit that scored Taya Gomes, who had doubled to reach base.

The Huskies had their chances late in the game and would leave the bases loaded in both the seventh and ninth innings.

They re-took the lead in the top of the 10th when Zoe Dewberry drove in Hall on a hard-hit single past third base to give them a 5-4 advantage.

But the Panthers came up clutch in the bottom half of the inning to keep their NCS ambitions on track.

With one out, Pinard singled in Mashell Stumpf to tie the game, before being driven home herself just moments later on Egbert’s game-winning hit.

“It was just a lot of fight today,” McCracken said. “They showed a lot of grit and it was good to see. I want them to show they want it more.”

Raina Ausburn pitched all 10 innings for the win in the circle and allowed just three earned runs on seven hits and five walks, while striking out 13.

Pinard led the way at the plate and finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs, while Egbert was 2-for-5 and Ausburn 2-for-4.

Bailey Box and Mashell Stumpf each also had a hit, with the latter scoring twice.

Johnston had three hits for the Huskies, while Dewberry had two, including a double, and Catherine Duncan also had a hit.

Johnston took the loss in the circle despite a strong performance.

She threw 7.1 innings in relief of Fennell, allowing nine hits and striking out seven.

“Hats off to Fortuna,” McCracken said. “They played a heck of a game.”

It was the second extra-innings game this week for the Huskies, who won their playoff opener 5-1 in nine innings at Cloverdale on Tuesday.

The Panthers will host either Cardinal Newman or Piedmont in a semifinal on Wednesday at 5 p.m.


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