Del Norte

Del Norte girls rally late in Big 5 thriller at McKinleyville

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – The Del Norte players react after they rallied to take the lead against McKinleyville in the top of the seventh inning.

By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Warriors continued their unbeaten start to the Big 5 in thrilling fashion on Thursday, rallying late for a 4-3 win at McKinleyville.

Khloe Smith hit a two-out, bases-clearing double to right field as the Warriors battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the seventh and final inning.

With the win, the league-leading Del Norte girls improved to 4-0 in the Big 5 and 10-3 on the season.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to Del Norte, they came to play today and their pitcher did a good job keeping us off balance,” McKinleyville head coach Shanna McCracken said. “That was huge for them.”

The loss drops the Panthers to 4-3 in league and 9-4 overall.

Senior Camryn Pinard got the game off to a flying start for the home team with a home run in the first inning and also played well on defense with some outstanding plays at shortstop.

The Mack outfielders also made some big plays defensively, most notably right fielder Mashell Stumpf.

“I thought our defense looked very good today,” McCracken said. “Camryn made some amazing plays at short, our outfielders read the ball pretty well and Taya (Gomes) called a great game at catcher. Overall, our defense was good today.”

However, the Panthers stranded 10 baserunners, including the potential tying run in the bottom of the seventh after Stumpf had hit a two-out double to give her team a chance to rally.

“We left way too many runners on base,” McCracken said. “It’s hard to win when you leave runners in scoring position over and over.”

The Warriors came up clutch late in the game thanks to some patient at-bats, including a bases-loading walk by Ava O’Reilley.

Two outs later, Smith had one of the biggest at-bats of the season for her team and delivered in thrilling fashion, sending the Del Norte dugout into a wild celebration.

The game was another close one in what is shaping up to be a competitive Big 5 and capped an exciting couple of days of action in league play after Arcata’s one-run win at Fortuna on Wednesday.

No more stats were immediately available for either Del Norte or McKinleyville, with the two schools scheduled to close out a three-game series in Crescent City on Saturday.

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