CONNORVILLE - The Buckeye 8 softball standings just got a little more interesting. And Buckeye Local finds itself right in the thick of things following Monday's 13-inning, 4-3, marathon victory against Indian Creek.
The Panthers (12-6) trailed 3-0 after 5 1/3 innings before taking advantage of two errors by the Redskins (12-3) in the bottom of the sixth that allowed the Panthers to draw even.
With a victory and Harrison Central's loss at Union Local, the Panthers and Huskies are tied atop the standings with identical 4-2 marks. However, the Panthers own the tiebreaker by virtue of a victory last week. Indian Creek, Edison and St. Clairsville are all 3-2.
Neither team scored until the bottom of the 13th, although both had ample opportunities. They combined to strand 11 runners from the eighth to the 13th, with Indian Creek guilty of leaving seven of those.
"Another crazy day in the Buckeye 8," Buckeye Local first-year coach Joe Soos said. "There are a lot of good teams in our conference. You never know what is going to happen from day to day.
"Both teams made some plays, got some big hits and persevered."
With the teams deadlocked at 3-3 and daylight quickly fading, freshman Kierstyn Czuchran stepped into the limelight. The Panthers' hitting machine lined a double over the head of Ashley Shimko with one out that scored Karlee Leonard with the game-winner.
Senior Dana Bettineschi started the winning rally with leadoff walk. However, after stealing second base, the Panthers speedster was caught trying to advance to third when the ball trickled away.
Several pitches later, Leonard lined a single down the first base line. She would eventually move to second on a wild pitch before racing home when Czuchran sent a 1-2 pitch to deep center.
"Kierstyn has a lot of games under her belt for a freshman, with all the travel ball she plays," Soos said. "She's a gamer."
Indian Creek coach Angela Penner was left shaking her head. The Redskins were sailing along at a brisk clip, but the bottom fell out in the sixth.
"Errors kill you. We have to eliminate our mistakes," she said. "Give Buckeye credit. They're a good team. They stayed in it. Defense wasn't in our favor.''
Indian Creek grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Paige Geanangel singled home Ashley Starr. It became 2-0 in the fifth as Starr's two-out single plated Abby Orr. Orr's two-out double in the sixth bumped the count to 3-0.
Starr was cruising, checking the heavy-hitting Panthers to three hits in five innings. Then came the sixth.
Lauren Swiger singled sharply to left leading off and Bettineschi legged out a slow infield roller one out later. A passed ball allowed both runners to move up 60 feet. After the second out was recorded, Czuchran grounded to short, but the throw got away at first as Swiger and Bettineschi scampered home and Czuchran went to second. Tori Nest's infield roller was also misplayed, allowing Czuchran to score the tying run.