Cardone gives South walk-off win in state tourney opener

PLYMOUTH — The first half hour of South Williamsport’s trip to the Pennsylvania Major Softball Tournament could not have gone much worse.

But roughly an hour later, Kendall Cardone saved South’s skin and sent the players back to the hotel in Plymouth Township, just a few miles outside Philadelphia, with smiles on their faces.

Trailing by six runs after an inning and a half, South stormed back in Tuesday’s state tournament opener, beating Indiana, 9-8, on Cardone’s walk-off double in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“What a huge hit by Kendall Cardone,” said South coach Cory Goodman. “It was amazing. I went up to her and said, ‘This is why we play the game, let’s have a little fun.’ And she came through.”

With the win in the tournament’s opening game, South advances to face Back Mountain in today’s second round at 1 p.m.

Indiana faces Carmichaels in the losers’ bracket.

Cardone’s clutch hit was the obvious dagger for South, but Lacey Kriebel’s glovework played just as big a part in the South comeback.

Trailing 7-1 after an inning and a half, South cut into the lead with four runs in the bottom of the second and the momentum was swinging.

But in the top of the third, Indiana threatened to blow things open again when Jayla Peterson ripped a ball to right field with a runner on base.

Kriebel, the South right fielder, saved the day, hanging on to an ice cream cone-style catch and keeping the Indiana lead at 7-5.

“That was huge,” Goodman said. “That could’ve broken it wide open, so that’s a huge catch because if she doesn’t make that play then we are still trying to score runs here.”

That added more fuel to the fire to in the end, and South chipped away after that, setting up Cardone’s walk-off heroics in the sixth inning.

“We were ready, every girl on our team has played in a state tournament before so they know what a big game is like,” Goodman said. “I can see it in their eyes that there wasn’t any quit and they fought until the last inning, so I’m proud of them, every one of them.”

Despite that experience, it was Indiana that was red hot at the beginning of the game, taking command early with a 7-1 lead in the top of the second.

“We started out and had a couple of miscues there in the beginning, got down early and the girls just fought, they fought hard until the last out and came back and won,” Goodman said. “There’s obviously some things that we can work on to come out a little stronger tomorrow, but I’m proud of them

Of the 13 South players who came to the plate, 11 ended up on base, tallying 11 hits.

Pitcher Alizabeth Schuler ended up with three strikeouts.

Back Mountain, today’s opponent, beat Warrington/Warwick, 5-1, in its opener.