Visitation softball tops Panthers 9-8 in extra innings

Visitation softball players celebrate after Tuesday's victory. Kiera Dent, center, batted in the winning run. (Brian Kapur/The Current)

With a runner in scoring position and two outs on the board, Visitation freshman pitcher Kiera Dent stepped up to the plate. When she made contact and dropped the ball into play, a moment of panic beset the first-year player.

“To be honest, when I first hit the ball, I was like, ‘Oh no,”’ Dent said. “Then I was like, ‘I have to dig and get there.’”

Dent indeed made it to first, scoring the winning runner from third to give Visitation a 9-8 victory over Independent School League foe Potomac School on Tuesday.

The Cubs needed the win to keep pace in the ISL after dropping a tight game to Flint Hill last week.

“Even though we have 14 games left, it is really important in the long run,” said senior Allie Clarke. “We have to finish strong and change the momentum. Flint Hill was a tough loss in a close one, and it was nice to get one back for the home team.”

The drama started early in the game as the Cubs quickly fell into a 2-0 hole. Visitation answered at the bottom of the third inning when Clarke ripped a three-run shot to put the Cubs ahead.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Visitation surged forward with another RBI from Clarke. Then sophomore Joanna Malits brought home senior Maggie Lavoie with an RBI bunt to push Visitation’s lead to 6-3 going into the sixth inning.
At first, the Cubs weren’t able to hang on, and the Panthers turned their hole into an 8-7 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.

Visitation had the heart of its lineup due at the plate, and senior Sydney Love-Baker and Clark set the table by getting on base. Then the seniors used crafty base-running off a hit from Lavoie to toy with the Potomac defense: First Love-Baker threatened to run from third to home, and then Clark followed suit between first and second. The Panthers’ infield was baffled, and the Cubs used the confusion to score Love-Baker and knot the game at eight.

“You can’t really practice that,” said Love-Baker. “In the moment, I just wanted to make something happen. It worked out pretty well, so we’ll take it.”

The creative play forced extra innings, and the Cubs needed to make a stop to have a chance to win the game. Senior Emily Ervin delivered with a double play to set the tone before the Cubs forced a groundout.

“I knew that’s what we needed in the moment,” Ervin said. “I just had to make one play at a time and get the lead runner, then throw back to first.”

At the bottom of the eighth, Ervin got on base with a walk, and then Ervin made a sacrifice to advance Ervin to third. That brought up Dent for the winning RBI.

The Cubs will be back in action on Thursday when they travel to play at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes at 4:15 p.m. in Alexandria.