MORRISTOWN - A six-run lead in softball is usually good enough most afternoons. Thursday in Morristown wasn't like most days.
After watching invading Shadyside build a 7-1 lead after three innings, Union Local didn't panic, but instead began chipping away. The Jets eventually had to tie the game three times before winning it in the bottom of the eighth, 10-9.
"We just told the girls to keep (battling) and keep putting the ball in play," Union Local coach Roger Herbert said. "This is a really nice victory especially how we had to earn it."
The Jets followed their coach's advice and kept putting the ball in play against Shadyside freshman pitcher Megan Heagney. The Tigers played what Coach Jillian Ongley termed ''their worst defensive game of the year.''
The Tigers committed 11 errors, including two in the eighth inning and it was a throwing error that allowed winning pitcher Olivia Minamyer to race home with the game-winning run.
"We let down, started making some errors and (Union Local) really picked it up,'' Ongley said. ''As we made errors, they continued to get pumped up. They had a few hits that hit the gaps and found holes, but our errors really killed us. Give UL credit for fighting back.''
After watching the Jets battle back and knot the game at 7-7 in the sixth, Shadyside dented the scoring column for the first time since the second inning to regain the lead.
Third baseman Tierney Duncan drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. However, Minamyer settled down and fanned the next two Tigers hitters.
Freshman catcher Kenzie Fielding, who had a key two-run double in the second inning, laced a line drive base knock into right center to score Duncan. Shadyside proceeded to load the bases, but the unflappable Minamyer, who came on in relief in the third inning, got another strikeout to avoid further damage.
Union Local, which stranded 10 runners in scoring position, got its leadoff hitter aboard when talented freshman Kaitlyn Sliva singled. She stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and then raced home when an attempted pickoff throw was air mailed down the left-field line.
"You can't walk the lead-off hitter because it'll hurt you every time," Herbert said. "But we kept battling. A big key for us was that Shadyside kind of went stale and didn't score for a while.''
The Tigers pushed a run across in the eighth and came just a few feet short of an additional run. Duncan reached on an infield single. She scored all the way from first when junior Hayley Holenka laced a double to the base of the fence in left center.
Union Local's Maddie Schafer led off the eighth with a single that snuck between third and short into left. She was promptly sacrificed to second base. Minamyer than reached on the Tigers' 10th error. Sliva then lifted a fly ball to left, scoring Schafer.
Alertly, Minamyer broke for third and Shadyside's attempt for an out skipped past the third baseman, allowing the game-winner to score.
"One thing we do is put pressure on teams on the bases," Herbert said. "We're going to make you throw us out. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but (Thursday) it worked for us."
Union Local was led by Sliva's two hits and a RBI. Amanda Swallie had a RBI single, while senior Barb Keiser had two singles and a RBI. Schafer had four hits and a RBI.
Shadyside was led at the plate by Holenka and Fielding's production. Karli Bonar had a triple and a single. Shelby Benedetta added two base knocks. Duncan had three singles and a RBI.
Alicia McKeever had a double and a single and Heagney had a RBI. In the circle, she fanned 12, walked four and plunked one.