LEE, Mass. -- The Lee High softball team started Tuesday’s game against rival Lenox in a 5-0 hole.
The Wildcats started the bottom of the seventh with a 13-11 deficit.
Good thing their motto for 2019 is, “Never Give Up.”
Katelyn Clark dropped a two-out single into right field to drive in Ariana Hall and give Lee its first win of the year, a 14-13 come-from-behind win over the Millionaires.
“I just watched, and I took it,” Clark said of her approach to the final at-bat of the day. “I thought I didn’t get it that far, and it went.”
Clark went 5-for-5 at the plate with three runs batted in. She also went the distance in the circle, striking out five and allowing no earned runs.
The winning rally started when Alison McDowell earned a one-out walk. Kylie Joyce (4-for-4, five stolen bases) then worked a walk but was erased on a groundball out that left runners at the corners.
After defensive indifference set up second and third, Hall laced a single to left that scored McDowell and Peyton Heath to tie the game, 13-13.
Hall then stole second and third before Clark delivered the game-winner.
Lee coach Harold Heath was emotional after seeing the Wildcats get their first win since May of 2017.
“It’s been a long fight,” Heath said. “It’s been two years. I’ve actually got tears in my eyes right now. But these guys fought today. They fought wicked awesome.
“We’ve been working really hard, and today it finally paid off.”
Both the Wildcats (1-4) and Millionaires (0-3) are in decidedly rebuilding modes this spring with young squads. Lee does not have a junior or senior on the roster and started three seventh-graders on Tuesday.
But the players weren’t necessarily thinking along those lines.
“It’s our rival,” Clark said. “We just wanted it.”
So did Lenox, which cashed in on three Lee errors to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the first. Hailey Ano had the big hit, a bases-clearing double.
The Wildcats responded with three in the first and one in the second, but Lenox extended its lead to 8-4 in the third with RBI singles from Maddy Hynes and Emily Blake.
Lee chipped away, tying the game at 8-8 with RBIs from Hall and Clark in the bottom of the fourth.
But Lenox answered with five in the fifth.
Juliana Johansen delivered the big blow, a two-run double in the left-center gap.
Johansen, like Clark, had to pitch around numerous errors but struck out four while allowing nine earned runs.
“Juliana is an outstanding pitcher,” Lenox coach Chris O’Brien said. “She didn’t let it get her down.
“It’s a work in progress, but … Cam [O’Dell] had a good game, Hailey [Ano] had a good game. There are some positives. We’re taking the positives out of it.”
Clark kept Lenox off the board in the final two innings, stranding three runners in the two innings and allowing Lee to come back.
The Wildcats drew within two runs when Hall (3-for-5) dropped a triple into right field in a three-run sixth, setting the stage for the winning rally one inning later.
O’Brien was disappointed with the outcome but encouraged to see his players go toe-to-toe against their Berkshire County South Division rivals.
“You know, we’re so used to the the 27-0 and five-inning games,” he said. “But this was a game. It was a competitive game. And it was good for them to get it under their belt, and now they know.”
Lenox goes to Mount Greylock on Thursday while Lee travels to Commerce.