DUBOIS, Pa. – Yes!
(Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
That was the reaction of the Cranberry softball seniors when asked if the gold medals around their necks after they beat Johnsonburg 5-3 in the District 9 Class 2A title game Thursday at Heindl Memorial Field in DuBois were a lot better than the silver medals that hung around their necks the last two years when they were district runners-up to Moniteau.
“Way better,” Hannah Duncan said.
“This is the best feeling ever,” Natalie Barcinas said. “I’m so happy.”
“This means everything because we have been waiting for this for two years after coming in second place,” Jenna Huegel chimed in.
Make no mistake, this title was the goal, the dream of these players since last year’s loss in the championship game.
“We went into it telling us that we weren’t going to be No. 2 anymore,” catcher Libby Kiefer said. “It’s our last year. We had big shoes to fill from last year. I think we are doing alright so far.”
Watch the complete interview with the five seniors – Duncan, Barcinas, Huegel, Kiefer and Elaine Kahle.
Second-year manager Glenn Barcinas said it was a huge win for the program.
“It’s huge for the girls,” Barcinas said about the Berries second District 9 title (the other came in 2012). “You have to give them a ton of credit. They have worked so hard. They have put the time in. To come out here D9 double-A champs, it’s a good feeling.
“I am extremely proud. I couldn’t be more proud to be coaching a group of hard-working young ladies. We faced a little bit of adversity this year, and they just come through time and time again.”
Watch the game’s final out, a pop up to shortstop Malliah Schreck.
The title was decided by the fact Cranberry took advantage of the opportunities it was presented with while Johnsonburg couldn’t seem to get the big hit.
The Berries scored their five runs on just four hits, a walk and a hit batter but took advantage of five Johnsonburg errors to plate four unearned runs.
“Those are opportunities you have to take advantage of,” Glenn Barcinas said. “That was the difference in the game.”
While Cranberry was doing a lot with a little, Johnsonburg was doing a little with a lot.
The Ramettes, who were playing in their first District 9 title game, had runners on base in every inning thanks to 11 hits, four walks and two Cranberry errors but stranded 11 including the bases loaded twice. Johnsonburg was 2 of 13 with runners in scoring position against Cranberry starter and winner Andrea Watson, who went the distance allowing three earned runs. She struck out seven.
“She struggled at times and the weather played a factor but we found a way defensively to get out of a couple of big innings they had,” Glenn Barcinas said. “You have to tip your hat to Johnsonburg. They came to play.”
Kiefer, the catcher, said Watson was struggling in part to slipping on the wet turf – it rained most of the afternoon in DuBois up until game time.
“It was quite different for us,” Kiefer said of the playing on the turf. “We really pulled it together. It really means a lot when you see everyone doing their part.”
Johnsonburg’s struggles with runners in scoring position started in the first inning with Jordan Bundy lined into a double play with third baseman Emily Duncan catching the ball and throwing to Rachel McCauley at first to double off Alyssa Kasmierski.
Then in the second, after Watson had walked in Johnsonburg’s first run, she got her circle counterpart Maria Jones to fly out to Natalie Barcinas in left to end the inning.
It was more of the same for the Ramettes in the third, as Kasmierski was at second with one out but Watson got Lindsay Kocjancic to strike out and Michaela Herzing to pop out to Hannah Duncan at second.
The Ramettes finally got a big hit with a runner at second in the fifth when they started the inning with three straight singles from Jones, Kasmierski and Bundy – Bundy’s scored Jones from second. But with runners on first and second and no outs, Kocjancic grounded into a fielder’s choice with Kasmierski out at second. On the play, a throwing error on Emily Duncan put runners on second and third, but again Watson came up with a big strikeout, this time of Herzing. She then walked the next batter to load the bases but struck out Haley Zimmerman looking to end that threat.
The sixth inning saw Watson bail herself out, as her error on a comebacker to the circle by Bundy after Johnsonburg had gotten an RBI single by Kasmierski to cut Cranberry’s lead to 5-3 brought up Kocjancic, who came into the game with 12 doubles and three triples on the season. And Kocjancic, after taking strike one, ripped a ball deep but foul to left for strike two before Watson pulled the string to fool her for strike three swinging.
While Cranberry was leaving a football team on the base paths, Cranberry found ways to push across its base runners.
The Berries struck twice in the first when Watson was hit by a pitch and Barcinas followed with a bunt single. A groundout to first by Kiefer moved the runners 60 feet, and McCauley hit one back to the circle, and with the runners holding Jones threw wildly to first allowing both runners to come around and score with McCauley thrown out at third.
Then with Cranberry nursing a 2-1 lead in the fourth, McCauley led off with a double to left-center and Elaine Kahle pinch ran. Schreck moved Kahle to third with a fly out to center, and Hannah Duncan brought her home with a fly out to right.
Then up 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Cranberry took advantage of three Johnsonburg errors to add two more insurance runs with Kaylie Bruce scoring when Kiefer reached on an error by the third baseman and Natalie Barcinas scoring when McCauley reached on an error by the shortstop.
“It was so important,” Huegel said of the insurance runs.
“It was very comfortable (having the extra runs),” Kiefer added.
Cranberry moves into the PIAA playoffs where it will take on the fourth-place team out of the WPIAL, Mohawk, in the first round Monday, June 4, at a time and location to be determined.
CRANBERRY 5, JOHNSONBURG 3
Score by Innings
Johnsonburg 010 011 0 – 3
Cranberry 200 120 x – 5
JOHNSONBURG – 3
Amanda Williams cf 3111, Maria Jones p 4120, Alyssa Kasmierski c 3031, Jordan Bundy 3b 4011, Lindsay Kocjancic ss 4110, Michaela Herzing 1b 4020, Isabella Galbo dp 3000, Haley Zimmerman 2b 3000, Jenna Pavlock lf 4010, Brooke Thomas rf 0000. Totals 32-3-11-3.
CRANBERRY – 5
Andrea Watson p 1100, Natalie Barcinas lf 3210, Libby Kiefer c 3001, Jenna Reynolds cr 0000, Rachel McCauley 1b 3010, Elaine Kahle pr 0100, Malliah Schreck ss 3000, Hannah Duncan 2b 2001, Emily Duncan 3b 3010, Maddie Cornelius rf 3000, Kaylie Bruce dp 3110, Jenna Huegel cf 0000. Totals 24-5-4-2.
LOB: Johnsonburg 12. Cranberry 5. Errors: Johnsonburg 5. Cranberry 2. 2B: McCauley, Emily Duncan. SB: Williams. Watson, Bruce. SF: Hannah Duncan. DP: Johnsonburg 1 (Emily Duncan to Rachel McCauley; Line drive double play). HBP: Watson by Jones.
Maria Jones 6 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HP
Andrea Watson 7 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
Winning pitcher: Andrea Watson
Losing pitcher: Maria Jones