Oxford stages a late rally to defeat Unionville, 6-4
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford Hornets plated three runs in the top of the seventh inning for a come-from-behind victory, 6-4, over Unionville on May 6.
The win improved Oxford's record to 11-6 on the season, and moved the team one step closer to a playoff berth.
The Indians, who honored their seniors during a pre-game ceremony, did not make it easy for Oxford. They took the lead in the fourth inning, and again in the fifth inning, but the Hornets kept battling back each time, too.
Oxford claimed the early lead in the top of the second when senior Gianna Coyle singled home Danielle Stackhouse.
Oxford starting pitcher Maddie Frank, a sophomore, made that lead stand up for the first half of the game. She did a nice job of mixing up her pitches to keep Unionville's hitters off balance. Oxford's defense was also excellent behind Frank. Alexis Pearson was a defensive standout at third base, and she flawlessly handled five chances at the hot corner in the first three innings alone. The last of those five plays saved a run as Pearson caught a hard-hit line drive off the bat of Amanda Panati that seemed destined for left field. With a runner on base, the catch preserved Oxford's 1-0 lead.
Unionville took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sydney Horan belted a one-out double off the left field wall. The next batter, Sophia Mayer, was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Madeline Frich then roped a double to left field that scored two runs. Danielle Panati stepped to the plate and promptly singled to right field, scoring Frich and giving Unionville a 3-1 lead.
The Hornets answered back in the top of the fifth inning. Coyle led off with a single. Two outs later, Oxford catcher Karlyn Rees belted a long home run to right field, tying the score at 3-3.
“She's been doing that all season for us,” Oxford head coach Josh Socash said of the talented sophomore.
The Indians reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Analise Griffiths doubled to lead off the inning. Frank retired the next two hitters, but then Horan singled to right field to make it 4-3.
Horan, who was on the mound for Unionville, yielded just one walk in the top of the sixth inning, keeping her team in front, 4-3.
It was up to Frank to keep the score right there so that Oxford would have a chance to tie the game in the seventh. The Oxford hurler got the first out, but then Frich struck again by delivering a single. Sydney Horne walked. Danielle Panati smacked a grounder that Oxford shortstop Abbey O’ Connor was able to make a good play on. O’ Connor fired to third base to eliminate the lead runner. Frank then got the next hitter, Swetha Gopal, to hit a grounder back to the mound for the third out of the inning.
O’Connor started Oxford’s rally in the top of the seventh by belting a one-out double to left-center field. Frank then delivered an RBI single that tied the score at 4-4.
Unionville opted to intentionally walk Rees, putting two runners on. Julie Cappelli singled to load the bases. Shannon Martin then hit a fielder’s choice grounder that scored the go-ahead run. Runners were still at the corners. Pearson then delivered an RBI single that gave Oxford a 6-4 lead.
Frank pitched around two walks in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory for Oxford.
Socash credited Frank with a determined pitching performance. “She did a nice job of getting ahead in the count,” he said. “She was able to stay focused and keep us in the game.”