The temperature was dropping, the wind was howling across Lampeter-Strasburg's campus and there appeared to be no end in sight to Wednesday's L-L Section Three softball battle between the Pioneers and Donegal.
If ever there was a time for a veteran to step up, it was now.
With the international tiebreaker in effect, third-year catcher Madi Emenheiser stroked a one-out sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Steph Gainer, and the Indians went on to turn back the Pioneers, 4-3, in 11 innings.
The victory allowed the Tribe (4-1 L-L, 5-3 overall) to maintain sole possession of second place in the section behind Manheim Central and dropped the Pioneers (3-2, 7-2) into third.
"Every win is big in the section," said Tribe coach Wayne Emenheiser. "You don't want to get down two losses to Central.
"Only two teams (from the section) make the playoffs. It's a three-team battle and they're (L-S) one of them. And we're one of them."
"Whenever we play Donegal it seems to bring out the best in both teams," offered Pioneer coach Tim Shoff.
"Best" being a subjective superlative.
Locating her pitches and painting like a master, senior pitcher Julie Dostal held the Tribe to three hits, striking out 11 while walking two.
Unfortunately for L-S, there were five errors behind her, leading to three unearned runs.
Donegal sophomore Sophie Leaman allowed eight hits, walking one while striking out seven. Her defensive support was flawless.
L-S broke on top as Dostal led off the fourth inning with a single and scored on Isabella Miranda's two-out single.
Dostal took a no-hitter two outs into the fifth inning before Erin Tirko reached on a two-base error and scored on Krissi Truett's single to center.
Leaman retired 13 of the next 14 batters and Dostal allowed just an infield single to Gainer as the game lumbered into the ninth inning.
An error and two force outs in the ninth left Lyndsey Mackley on first for Leaman, who promptly tripled Mackley home.
Leaman then surrendered her only walk of the game, to Dostal, who scored on Kelly Graybill's sharp single past third.
That triggered the dreaded international tiebreaker - the batter who made the last out of the previous inning is put on second base with no outs to start the next inning.
Donegal scored an unearned run in the 10th on an error by shortstop Ashley Lechner, but L-S's Liz Niehaus sent the game to the 11th with an RBI single.
Katrina Martin bunted Gainer over to third to begin the Donegal 11th and Emenheiser, who was 0 for 3 with a walk, got her pitch from Dostal.
"I was just trying to get it to the outfield," the junior catcher shared, "or move (Gainer) around."
Having moved Gainer all the way around, Emenheiser wasn't done.
Kara Barton bunted Dostal to third to start the L-S 11th and Graybill got just enough of a 1-2 pitch from Leaman to nub it out in front of the plate.
Emenheiser pounced on it and stared Dostal back to third.
"She was the pivotal runner," said Emenheiser. "I didn't want her to score, so I wasn't going to go to first straight away."
Graybill, the potential winning run, took first without a throw. "I didn't think I had enough time," Emenheiser said. "You just want to keep it contained."
Leaman ensured containment, retiring Miranda on a liner to Mackley at first, then striking out Lechner to wrap the victory.
"We certainly had our chances," said Shoff. "Hopefully (we'll) learn from it."