A four-run rally after two outs in the third inning provided the Forest Hills softball team the margin it would need to come away with a 9-6 win at Westmont on Wednesday afternoon.
The Rangers (3-1) trailed by a run after the Hilltoppers (3-2) scored twice in the bottom of the second.
With nobody on and two down in the next Ranger at-bat, Taylor Delusa reached on an infield single, and Olivia Gregorich followed with a base hit. Delusa then came home with the tying run when winning pitcher Kaylee Stigers reached on an error, and Makena Baumgardner followed with a walk to load the bases.
Right fielder Kristin Kundrod then lined a double to drive in all three runs to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead.
That advantage grew to as many as six runs before Westmont chipped away in the later innings, but the Rangers were able to work out of jams in the sixth and seventh to prevail.
“Everybody played together, played hard, and came through when we needed them,” said Forest Hills coach Andy Pcola.
The Rangers had only one more hit than the Hilltoppers, but took advantage of six Westmont errors.
“I take pride in our defense, but six errors is unacceptable,” said Hilltopper coach John Grace. “We have to tighten up our defense because you can’t expect to outslug everybody.”
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Gregorich’s two-out double gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and the Hilltoppers answered one inning later.
Kaylee Grassmyer got Westmont on the board with a run-scoring triple and pinch runner Monica Lough then came home with the go-ahead run on Lauren Criswell’s squeeze bunt.
After the Rangers’ big inning in the third, they followed that up with three more runs in the fourth. Liz Blough led off with a single and later scored on a one-out error.
Gregorich’s run-scoring groundout made it 7-2, and Delusa then came home on a two-out throwing error to put Forest Hills ahead by six.
Westmont got back in the game with three runs in the fifth. Katie Flick reached on an error to lead off and scored on Caitlyn Miller’s groundout. Alyssa Miller doubled and subsequently came home on a wild pitch, and following a double by catcher Jillian Foster, pinch runner Karly Balon scored on Grassmyer’s second hit of the game to make it 8-5.
Criswell’s second hit of the day followed by a walk and an error loaded the bases and brought the go-ahead run to the plate for Westmont with two down in the sixth, but Stigers retired Taylor Hoover to end the threat.
“When they needed the timely hit, they got it,” said Grace. “We had chances and we battled but couldn’t quite get there.”
Kundrod doubled with one out and scored an insurance run on an error for Forest Hills in the top of the seventh before two errors and a hit batter helped Westmont add one more tally to set the 9-6 final.
“Kaylee (Stigers) threw a nice game and got some big outs when she needed them,” Pcola said. “Everybody in the lineup contributed, and this was just a nice win for the program.”