By BRIAN CUNNIFF
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — When Joelle Klein slugged a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning, the Lower Cape May Regional High School softball team tied Tuesday’s game against Middle Township at 5-5.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Lower had the bases loaded and no one out while trailing 6-5. But instead of a big inning by the Tigers, Middle turned a rather bizarre double play and then recorded the third out on the next hitter to retain its lead.
The Lady Panthers then went on to score 12 runs over the final two innings to win going away, 18-5.
In the fifth, Emma Muldoon hit a long double with a runner on and Klein walked to load the bases with no one out for Lower. Kaitlyn Dougherty then hit a low line drive back to the mound that pitcher Lacey Abrego caught in the air. But the umpires ruled the ball had bounced and Abrego tossed to first base for the first out. Middle first baseman Paige Fox then alertly tug a runner for the second out. Abrego retired the next hitter to get Middle out of the jam.
Middle then used some walks, a couple of errors and four hits over the final two innings to score 12 times.
Tori London went 2 for 4 with four RBI, including a three-run home run in the first inning, and Grace Thompson singled, doubled, scored three times and had three RBI for Middle. Fox and Cassidy Gallagher also each had two hits.
Middle moved to within a game of .500 with the win. The team’s record is deceptive, however, considering it has lost three one-run games.
“We’ve been playing with some good teams,” Middle coach Lauren Ruef said. “We’ve lost three games by one run. We need to wake our bats up a little bit and not give extra outs to other teams. It seems like everyone in the conference is pretty good this year.
“If we stop giving extra outs, like errors, and hit throughout a game I honestly think we can compete with anybody in the conference. We’re playing a tough out-of-conference schedule to try to get us ready for the playoffs. But we feel we can compete with anyone on a good day.”
Abrego held Lower (2-5) scoreless over the final four innings and earned the pitching win. She also had a hit and two RBI at the plate.
Muldoon had three hits, including two doubles, and Bri Hemling also doubled for Lower.