PV rallies past Chalker

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Pymatuning Valley pitcher Saige Payne delivers a pitch during the first inning of Friday’s game against Chalker. Payne recorded the game-winning RBI in the eighth inning.

ANDOVER — Pymatuning Valley has played from behind before.

After surrendering three runs on three errors in the first inning, they’d have to do it again.

It took until the sixth to turn things around, but once the Lakers got that first run on the board, their confidence flipped.

Tying the game up in the seventh, and holding Chalker off the board in the top of the eighth, the stage was set for Pymatuning Valley to make its final push.

Senior pitcher Saige Payne knocked home sophomore Nataleigh Haines to complete the comeback and give the Lakers a 4-3 victory over Chalker in eight innings.

“We’ve had games like this that we’ve had to come from behind,” Pymatuning Valley coach Andrew Gray said. “I was worried, don’t get me wrong, but I was kind of confident that we (could get back into it), especially with the lineup that we had going into the seventh inning. We were pretty confident, but they’re a good team, even with the two injuries, they’re still a very tough team.”

Despite the lack of hitting early, Payne and the Laker defense held tough and didn’t allow any additional Chalker baserunners to cross home plate throughout the game.

For a young team, it could have been easy to let the errors trickle down, but instead they tightened up.

“They scored three runs on three errors, and then didn’t score again for the rest of the game,” Gray said. “We’ve got a young team, those kinds of things are going to happen to us. I have to accept some of the inexperience out there, and we just have to get through it.”

Having been in this position before, Gray had a feeling that the Lakers’ first run of the night would be the kickstarter.

While not easy on the heart, these comeback efforts are perfect preparation for the tournament just around the corner.

“As soon as we scored that one run, the whole tide changed,” Gray said. “Our attitude, our being in the game, all changed once that happened. Before that, it was just like, ‘We’re just here. Just coming out and playing.’ But I’m proud of them. They were able to come back.

“This is the second game that we had (where we’ve had to come back). We played Geneva. We were down, I think 11-4, and we ended up coming back and beating them 17-9. This will just help us for the playoffs, knowing that they know they’re never out of it. Just keep working and trying to get yourself out of it.”

Chalker suffers its third loss of the season, falling to 10-3.

For the Wildcats, Friday’s game comes down to death by a thousand cuts.

A baserunning mistake here, swinging at a bad pitch there, all small things that piled up.

“It was just little things, some mistakes on our part,” Chalker coach Rich Hudak said. “Just some, just some poor base running mistakes that we made, and some fielding plays where we should have made some different decisions.

“We’re young, we’re inexperienced, we have a lot of players that are learning different positions. It’s been a learning year for us. It’s all about the learning process. It’s all about that process and getting ready for the tournament, and this is a great, great game for us to get ready for the tournament.”

Chalker closes out its regular season at home against Maplewood, and then it’s time for the tournament.

“I’m not sure if any of our girls or anyone, really, expected where we would be at this point in the season,” Hudak said. “I believe we have exceeded expectations and I’m super proud of the girls who come and work hard every day to get better.”

The Lakers (18-1) play Ashtabula Edgewood on Monday.

Have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger by email at byauger@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.


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