The Seneca softball team has fallen behind in nine of their 16 games this season.
The Bobcats rallied to win seven of those nine.
Seneca's softball program hasn't had much success over the years, but this year's Bobcats have shown a tenacity to stay in most games.
Seneca rallied several times on Monday to beat Harbor Creek 8-7 in a crucial Region 3 game at Seneca High School. The Bobcats need just a few more key wins this week to lock up their first region title in program history.
“These girls don't let up,” said Seneca coach Derek Peterman. “We've gotten down in many of our games, but we keep coming back. I told the girls we have nothing to lose. As long as you can look your teammates in the eyes and know you did your best, we've already won. This win was a huge step for our program.”
Seneca improved to 14-2 overall and 13-0 in Region 3 with a one-game lead on Harbor Creek at 12-1. The Bobcats have three games left and need two wins to clinch at least a share of the region title. Seneca heads to Mercyhurst Prep on Tuesday, then finishes a suspended game at Fairview on Wednesday before a rematch on the road with Harbor Creek on Thursday.
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Monday's comeback win being the final home game for the Bobcats was not lost on an emotional Julia Patterson, who has been through it all over the past four years.
“It has been amazing from where we were freshman year to getting sophomore year canceled; this has been such an amazing blessing,” said Patterson, who drove in a run Monday. “It would be amazing to win the region for the first time. I'd probably cry again.”
Seneca showed signs of turning things around last year with a 12-8 record. The Bobcats even earned their fourth District 10 playoff win in program history by beating Northwestern 10-7 before falling to eventual D-10 champion Sharpsville 13-1.
The impressive win on Monday encapsulated the Bobcats.
In the third inning, Harbor Creek took a 4-0 lead on a grand slam by sophomore Rylee Vogt. In the bottom of the inning, the Bobcats scored on an error before Lauren Konkol blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to cut the lead to 4-3.
After Seneca tied the score in the fifth inning on a Patterson groundball, Harbor Creek retook the lead 6-5 in the sixth on a Georgia Weber double.
The Bobcats responded with four runs in the sixth on a Konkol RBI single and two-run triple by Helen Genest.
Harbor Creek made one last run in the seventh with a two-run single by Diane Akerly to cut the lead to 8-7, but Konkol settled down to get three outs and strand the tying run on third base.
“We've been down so many times in games but we know we have to fight to the very last inning,” said Konkol, who took a line drive off her leg while pitching but stayed in the game. “We've been working together as a team, and I've played with most of these girls since we were little. We have so much chemistry, and any time someone is having a bad day, we are there for them.”
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Konkol has been a leader on the team at the plate and in the circle, and she pitches to her younger sister Meghan, a catcher and also an offensive leader for the Bobcats.
Seneca has plenty of experience on the roster, including five seniors and five juniors. They are all working toward one goal they set before the season by never giving up in games.
“These girls don't let up. Even I got down a little after the grand slam, but these girls came right back and scored three runs in the same inning,” Peterman said. “They are taking it one game at a time, and we have a few games left so we don't want to look too far ahead.”
“We set out this year with a goal, and we are working hard to achieve it,” Konkol said. “It would be awesome to win the region and have our name up on the wall in the gym.”
Contact Tom Reisenweber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ETNreisenweber.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Seneca softball team displays moxie all season on way to Region 3 lead