The Lehigh Mountain Hawks softball team played an unorthodox doubleheader Wednesday afternoon in Bethlehem, losing the first game 3-0 and playing to a 3-3 tie in Game 2 — decided by the setting sun.
As darkness set on Leadership Park in a tightly contested second game, the home plate umpire announced that the bottom of the seventh would be the final inning regardless of the outcome.
Trailing 3-1 heading into the sixth inning, Lehigh rallied to score twice to tie the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Lehigh (16-13-1) had runners on first and second with one out. Sophomore Brooke Cannon struck out, leaving Addie Kittel as the Hawks’ final hope. The crowd gasped as she hit a deep drive toward the left field fence that curled foul. She struck out a pitch later resulting in the tie.
Lehigh’s last tie came in 2018 against Villanova, also due to darkness.
“I think this is probably about my eighth tie in about 1,300 games, so you can do the math on that,” Troyan said of the rarity of the final. “I thought our comeback was great. Our spirit was great. We wish we would have gotten a hit there at the end to win it, but that’s part of the game. Sometimes it happens.”
Lehigh scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the fourth with Karsen O’Rourke coming home on an error. However, Princeton (16-13-1) answered with three runs in the top of the fifth scored off sophomore pitcher Katelyn Young who had an otherwise solid game. Young pitched all seven innings, striking out five batters while walking three.
“She pitched great all but one inning,” Troyan said. “She just lost a wee bit of focus, and had she not lost her focus, I don’t think they would have scored the three runs there. But that’s part of softball, too. And honestly, I thought she had a strong, strong game overall.”
Lehigh climbed back, tying the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Kittel drove in the first run on a single to center that also moved Cannon to third. They scored the second on a wild play that started with Princeton attempting to pick off Cannon on a snap throw to third. The ball was dropped, and Lindsey Martin — who was pinch running for Kittel — sprinted for second base. Princeton threw to second in an attempt to get Martin, but she slid in safely. Meantime, Cannon dashed to the plate and beat the throw home.
“Our backs were against the wall,” Lehigh junior outfielder Emily Cimino said. “When we’re under pressure, we are really good, but we need to find ways to do that earlier in the game so we don’t have to keep coming back from behind.”
Princeton dominated Game 1. Tiger pitcher Ali Blanchard threw six shutout innings and gave up just two hits en route to the win. A single walk was Blanchard’s only other blemish. Cimino and Carley Barjaktarovich each singled, and Kittel doubled for Lehigh’s only hits of the game.
“In the first game, we couldn’t get the bats going,” Kittel said. “In the second game, we had a little more, but there were still some things we needed to be better at.”
Cimino attributed their Game 1 struggles to not adjusting at the plate. In Game 2, they focused on making contact.
“We’ve got tremendous fight in our team,” Troyan said. “The problem is that every once in a while, we dig ourselves into a pretty deep hole. If we can get to the point where we don’t put ourselves in a hole and have to dig out, and get a little competitive maturity, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good coming down the stretch.”