The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Sports

May 27, 2014

Hounds D-10 champs; WM drops heartbreaker

- — ERIE — Someone one said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” No one knows that better than the West Middlesex girls softball team after a tough District 10 Class A championship loss.

But then again new 2014 Class AA D-10 champ Wilmington saw it over in the third inning in the next game.

Holding a 3-2 lead over Iroquois in the bottom of the seventh inning during the District 10 Class A championship game Monday afternoon at Penn State-Behrend, the Ms Reds saw the Lady Braves collect three straight hits for a 4-3 victory that stymied West Middlesex hopes for their first D-10 crown since 2004.

Meanwhile, in the Class AA game that followed, the Wilmington Lady Hounds outscored Northwestern 5-3 in the third inning and went on to an 8-3 rout.

CLASS A

ä Iroquois 4, West Middlesex 3 —
“It hurts,” said West Middlesex coach Nick Donatelli, after watching Iroquois snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. “But absolutely, I’m so proud of our team. They gave me everything they had.

“And pitcher Jordyn Allen, she works her tail off in the off-season. We weren’t even sure if we would have her this year after a foot injury. But her and my other seniors — Aly Andrusky, Abby McAdams, Kay Ballard and Brook Parcetich — they led this team. We’re really going to miss them.

“This was my first year back after three years out of coaching. And I told the girls that at the start of the season, I thought we could be good, but if I had been asked on Day 1 if we could get this far, I would have said, ‘No way.’ But then as we were chugging along and we got to midseason, I said, ‘We can do this.’”

And they almost did before the last inning outburst by Iroquois that spoiled a brilliant pitching performance by Allen, who yielded only five hits before that inning and struck out 13.

West Middlesex jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Hannah Havens reached on an error on her bunt  back to the pitcher. She advanced to third after two illegal pitch calls, then scored on a single to left by Allen. But Iroquois came right back in the bottom half of the inning.

Leadoff hitter Emily Martin beat out an infield single to start the rally, then stole second and third. After Alli Kaliszewski walked, Brianna Ashley hit a single up the middle and both runs scored as Kaliszewski crossed home on a close play at the plate. Allen then picked up her third strikeout of the frame, but the Lady Braves were on top, 2-1.

The Ms. Reds went in order in the second. Iroquois also failed to score as Allen produced a rare 4-strikeout inning. One batter struck out, but reached first when a low pitch bounced away from catcher Andrusky.

In the third, Havens picked up a single for the Ms. Reds, but was stranded at second after a pair of outs. Iroquois threatened after leadoff hitter Rachel Prather singled, but she was left at third after Ms. Reds left-fielder Havens made an outstanding catch on a ball that went to the fence to end the inning.

West Middlesex went on top again in the fourth, 3-2. Allen led off with a walk and was replaced by courtesy runner Allie Staunch. Andrusky then reached base on an error. Staunch scored on an infield out, then Andrusky came around to score on a single by Abby McAdams.

Allen then shut the door on the Lady Braves in the bottom of the frame with a pair of whiffs and a throw to first on a comeback grounder.

Ms. Reds’ speedy outfielder Havens opened the fifth with a bunt single, but was left at second base when the inning ended. Iroquois also threatened in the bottom of the inning, advancing runners to second and third with two outs. But Allen responded with her 11th strikeout of the game to stymie the Lady Braves.

WM had a pair of walks with two outs in the sixth. But Iroquois escaped when pinch-hitter Madison Cheney drilled a line drive back to pitcher Prather and she stabbed the ball.

Iroquois put a runner on base to start the sixth, but Allen picked up another pair of K’s to close out the inning.

In the seventh, the Ms. Reds picked up a hit by Havens, her third bunt single of the game, and two walks but couldn’t capitalize.

Then it was up to Allen and the West Middlesex defense, but the Lady Braves wouldn’t give in. Emily Martin led off with a single, followed by a single by Emily Hess after she failed to get down a pair of sacrifice bunts. Then pitcher Rachel Prather made herself a winner by driving in both runners, who had moved up to second and third.

“We had our chances,” said Donatelli. “We just couldn’t string any hits together. Hannah Havens had three of our five hits and also got on on an error to reach base all four times.

“We’re going to miss our seniors, they were all starters, but we have some good young kids coming back. Tori Roth is only a sophomore. I have confidence in her as a pitcher. She should be very good by next year. And we have a lot of other young talent.

“I think we have a good chance to get back here next year.”

Notes: The Ms. Reds finished the year at 11-4, while Iroquois moved to 13-6. ... West Middlesex has made three appearances in the D-10 finals, winning over Linesville in 2004, then losing to Cochranton in 2011. ... While Havens had three hits, the only other safeties for the Ms. Reds were singles by Allen and McAdams.

CLASS AA

ä Wilmington 8, Northwestern 3 —
For a second time in three years, the Wilmington Lady Greyhounds of coach Tom Reed were in the District AA finalé. But this time, the Hounds had vowed that the results would be different than their 2012 loss to Fairview.

“I told the kids it was their time,” said Reed, whose Lady Hounds like the Lady Wildcats both came into the game with 15-3 records. “The kids worked hard all year. The seniors put in the time and they deserve it.”

Now the Lady Hounds have a week off before the PIAA playoffs next Monday when they play the second place team out of the WPIAL (District 7).

“(The week off) will help us,” said Reed. “We’ll take off tomorrow and then get ready for our banquet Wednesday night. Then we’ll go hard Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

They certainly went hard Monday, especially in the third inning when they responded from a 3-run deficit to plate 5 runs.

“We’ve been doing that all year,” said Reed with a wide smile. “It seems like that’s what it takes to get us going.”

Both teams had runners on in the first inning, but didn’t score. Northwestern stranded a runner at third in the top of the frame, and Wilmington left one on also. The Lady Hounds would have scored except for a bit of confusion. Chelsea Rogel led off for Wilmington and cracked a single. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cassidy Marett. Then Lexi Donati crushed a high fly to left, that bounced off the fielder’s glove and then off the fence back into the glove. Rogel had rounded third, but then started back after Coach Reed thought the ball was caught. She then got stuck in a rundown and tagged out between second and third.

“I’ll take the blame on that one,” said Reed. “I was screened out by the umpire and thought the ball was caught.”

In the second, Northwestern had a hit, but that was it. Wilmington had a pair of baserunners after a hit by Alanna Elliott and walk to Aryn Boyer, but they couldn’t get home.

Northwestern opened the scoring in the third. Sydnee White led off with a walk and moved to second on a sac bunt. Alyssa Laseck then rapped a single up the middle, here second hit of the game, to pick up an RBI. Emily Osterberg followed with a walk. After a popout to pitcher Kayleigh Shenker, Lady Wildcats’ Molly Iskula ripped a liner off the third baseman’s glove for a double that brought home both runners and provided a 3-0 lead.

The Lady Hounds came right back with a huge rally as they batted around. Rogel ripped a single to center, moved to second on a ground out and then scored on a perfectly placed single by Marett. After Courtney Cohen reached on an error, Elliott walked to load the sacks.

Northwestern changed pitchers as Alexandra Osborne come on, but it didn’t help. Marett scored on a passed ball, then Cohen came home on a sac fly by Shenker. Boyer followed with a single and Nikki McCown reached on an error. Boyer then scored on a hit by Ashley Houk. When the inning ended, Wilmington led 5-3.

In the fourth, after closing down the Lady Wildcats, Wilmington went 1-2-3.

Northwestern almost scored in the fifth. Osterberg tripled, tried for an inside-the-park homer, but was tagged out at the plate. In the bottom of the frame, Shenker and McCown had hits, but Wilmington failed to expand on the lead.

Not so in the bottom of the sixth. The Lady Hounds took advantage of a pair of walks, an outfield error and a single by Shenker that fell between fielders for a three-run burst, as they expanded the margin to 8-3.

The game ended in the top of the inning on a foul pop to third-sacker Donati and the celebration began.

Reed had high praise for his pitcher Shenker, who struck out 6, walked 2 and gave up 8 hits: “She’s a rock. She had one bad inning but didn’t let it bother her. She doesn’t get flustered, she never gets excited.”

Well, maybe a little bit excited after the final out and the on-field partying began!

Notes: Wilmington had 11 hits in the game. Rogel had a pair of singles, as did Shenker. Marett, Donati, Elliott, Boyer, McCown and Houk each had one safety. ... Seniors for the Lady Hounds are Marett, Shenker, Elliott, Houk, Cohen, Linzy Borowicz, Jessica Schlumberger and Rogel. ... Lascek and Osborne each had two hits each to pace the Lady Wildcats. ... Wilmington beat NW in the quarterfinals last year, but lost to Harbor Creek in the semis. ... The last time the Lady Hounds won the D-10 title, they advanced all the way to the Western Regional final, but bowed to Philipsburg-Osceola.

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