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STEVENSVILLE — Syd Paul hadn’t hit the ball out of the infield all day.

The seventh at-bat was the charm for the Stevensville leadoff hitter.

She tucked a ground ball inside the first base line as she drove home the winning run to help the Yellowjackets overcome a blown lead and beat Ronan, 9-8, in 11 innings.

“It was a little struggle today,” the sophomore left fielder said. “My teammates just told me to have fun up there and don’t worry about it. They helped me get through it. I was just super excited to win it.”

While Paul came up with the winning hit, it had been the four batters at the bottom of the order who had sparked Stevensville (2-0) in the frigid weather.

Kaylee Berning, sixth in the batting order, led off the 11th inning with a single, and Taylor Springer walked with one out. Paul, who's played softball for eight years, planned and executed the opposite-field hit on the first pitch she saw — up and in — to drive home Berning.

Stevensville had trailed 8-6 heading to the bottom of the 10th inning when the eighth and ninth batters — Springer and Joey Oyler — started a rally with a pair of singles. Paul legged out a bunt single to load the bases, Springer scored on an error, and Oyler crossed the plate to tie the game on a fielder’s choice.

“They kept fighting, kept pushing,” Stevensville head coach Joey Wark said. “They showed they’re a resilient team. We had opportunities to put it away early, but when we got down, there was no give-up in them.”

The Yellowjackets and Maidens (2-3) were the only area teams to play on Thursday after three other games were postponed because of the weather. It was 40 degrees at the start of the game, and light snow flurries started in the third inning, continuing on and off through the 11th inning.

There were worries that the game would be postponed, but rain in the area stopped early enough in the day for the field to be playable.

“This makes me feel like we’ve played two games,” Wark said. “That’s fine. We need those reps. We haven’t played a lot yet because of some rainouts.”

The Yellowjackets, who don’t expect to excel in high-scoring games, took advantage of five errors on the day. They built a 6-2 lead in the fifth inning when Sarah Morrison and Springer reached on a pair of two-out errors that brought home two runs.

Stevensville appeared to have a win locked up as it took that four-run lead into the top of the seventh inning. However, Ronan had some fight of its own.

The Maidens’ first three batters reached base, and Katlyn Santos drove in a run on a single to center fielder Mikayla Newman, who misplayed the ball, allowing two more runs to score. Santos scored and tied the game when the next batter, Jaylyn Hakes, hit a one-out grounder to Springer, who tagged first base without looking to third base to hold back the runner.

Santos, who missed most of last season with a quad injury, gave Ronan its first lead of the day, 8-6, when she clubbed a two-out, two-run double to left field in the top of the 10th inning.

“We knew when we got her in our lineup and in the field we’d be a much-improved team,” Ronan head coach Kellie Manyhides said. “She’s shown that so far.”

The Maidens stranded 12 runners on base, including four in the seventh inning or later. Trailing 4-2 in the fourth inning, they loaded the bases with one out but couldn’t push a run across the plate.

“We should have won that game,” Manyhides said. “We had too many defensive errors, especially with two outs, and we left too many runners on. That cost us the game. It’s pretty heartbreaking. I told them that, and they knew it.”

Frank Gogola covers Missoula-area prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGogola or email him at

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