PITTSFIELD - Just as quickly as Allie Hunt gave the Berkshire Force momentum in their third Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series pool play game Friday, Fern Creek, Ky., took it right back.
Hunt's three-run, inside-the-park home run tied the game at 3 in the sixth inning, but Fern Creek responded with six runs in the bottom of the frame for a 9-3 win at the Doyle Softball Complex.
The loss is Berkshire's first of the tournament. The Force (2-1) play Hoquiam, Wash., Friday night at 8:15 p.m. Fern Creek, meanwhile, finished off a perfect slate of four pool-play games with the victory.
"From here on out, every game matters," Hunt said after the loss. "Sure, we just played a bad one, but we have to dump it right away."
Hunt's homer was the first hit the Force managed off Fern Creek pitcher Madison Williams - and it marked the first runs Williams has given up all week. She earned the win, striking out 12 batters in a 135-pitch complete game. Despite a high pitch count, Williams held Berkshire without a hit for 5 2/3 innings.
"We just knew we didn't want to lose," Williams said. "We needed to keep it pumped up in the dugout."
In all, Williams threw 180 pitches over two games Friday. She threw three innings of relief in a win over St. Charles Parish, La., earlier in the day.
The 16-year-old said she felt fine after both wins, having gone to the tournament's massage booth between games.
"Madison is just an incredible athlete," Fern Creek assistant Joni Brown said.
That adversity showed up in the top of the sixth for Williams. Jill Campbell led off by reaching on an error at short, and with two outs, Hayley Tobin also reached on an error to put runners at the corners.
Hunt put an 0-2 fastball into left center field, just between outfielders, and made her way around the bases to tie the score and breathe new life into the Force.
"They saw right there that we were in this, that we could get hits and that she wasn't unhittable," Hunt said.
Fern Creek barely flinched, though, and responded quickly, scoring all six runs in the sixth with two out. Hannah Brown, Williams, Cassie Peavler and Madison Yates had hits in succession off Julia Murphy in the inning to bring the runs home. Brown, Williams and Peavler's hits were all doubles.
The Ohio Valley champs put the leadoff hitter on in four of six innings, and scored in three of those innings. Berkshire's defense also committed five errors.
"I think Fern Creek may have come better prepared [than previous opponents]," Force assistant coach Serina Stimpson said. "They had a couple of days to look at us and our pitching staff. The other two [teams] came in blind."
The double-elimination tournament brackets will be determined after the Friday night games are played. Fern Creek, as of its win, was one of two teams to finish 4-0 in pool play. Madison County, N.C., was the other.
Berkshire 000 003 0-3 3 5
Fern Creek 010 206 x-9 10 1
Julia Murphy and Hayley Tobin. Madison Williams and Alexis Skiles. W - Williams. L - Murphy. 2B - Fern Creek 3 (Williams, Cassie Peavler, Madison Yates). HR - Berkshire 1 (Allie Hunt).