Between June 27 and July 22 we will be counting down the Top 20 Sports Stories in District 9 from the 2015-16 School Year starting with No. 20 June 27 and finishing with No. 1 July 22.
No. 19 Clarion’s Run to the PIAA Softball Playoffs
When the season started, it was hard to get a gauge on what the Clarion softball season was going to look like. The Lady Cats had made the 2015 District 9 playoffs but were bounced pretty quickly.
However, Clarion sent an early message in 2016 upsetting a Cranberry team favored to win the KSAC North in the season’s third game.
That helped push the Lady Cats out to a 6-1 start. But then things got murky again, as Clarion dropped six in a row to see its season hit a crossroads at 6-7.
But starting with a 3-0 win over Brookville May 6, Clarion didn’t lose again for nearly four weeks.
The Lady Cats closed the regular season by winning seven in a row to earn the third seed in the District 9 Class A playoffs. That included a come-from-behind 4-3, eight-inning win in the season finale against Johnsonburg with Clarion scoring twice in the seventh and once in the eighth to win the game.
The comeback trail continued in the opening round of the District 9 playoffs against Curwensville.
Trailing the Lady Tide, who owned a season-opening victory over Clarion, 2-0 going to the fifth, Clarion got a run back in the fifth on a Johnna Rapp groundout. Then in the sixth, Cora Zerfoss’ mad dash from first on a sacrifice bunt by Alexis Constantino tied the game at two.
As the crowd at Weaver Park roared for the home team, Maya Thornton took the first pitch she saw from Curwensville ace Rylee Young and lofted a home run over the leftfield fence to give the Lady Cats the lead, 3-2.
Sadie Rudesyle then found herself in a bit of trouble in the top of the seventh but worked her way out of the jam to preserve the victory.
In the semifinals at St. Marys, Clarion took on second-seeded Coudersport, and the Lady Cats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Sydney Kiser single before making it 4-0 in the sixth when Constantino and Thornton each had RBI doubles followed by another run-scoring single by Kiser.
Coudersport tried to make a game of it scoring twice in the sixth, but Rudesyle retired retired the final five Lady Falcons she faced to get the victory, which sent Clarion to the District 9 title game and the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2011.
In the championship game against top-seeded DuBois Central Catholic, Clarion led 1-0 going to the bottom of the sixth before the Lady Cardinals rallied for two runs to take the title. Then in the PIAA playoffs. eventuall PIAA runner-up West Greene, used a
Clarion went on to beat Coudersport in the semifinals and held a 1-0 lead going to the bottom of the sixth in the title game against DuBois Central Catholic before the Lady Cardinals, who went on to the state semifinals, rallied for a 2-1 win. The Lady Cats then lost to West Greene, the PIAA runner-up, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, but that didn’t change the fact it was a great season for Clarion, its best since reaching the PIAA championship game in 2011.
Top 20 Sports Stories in District 9 for the 2015-16 School Year
No. 20 – Punxsutawney wins 13th straight District 9 Class AAA Baseball Title
No. 19 – Clarion’s Run to the PIAA Softball Playoffs
No. 18 – Released June 29
No. 17 – Released June 30
No. 16 – Released July 1
No. 15 – Released July 4
No. 14 – Released July 5
No. 13 – Released July 6
No. 12 – Released July 7
No. 11 – Released July 8
No. 10 – Released July 11
No. 9 – Released July 12
No. 8 – Released July 13
No. 7 – Released July 14
No. 6 – Released July 15
No. 5 – Released July 18
No. 4 – Released July 19
No. 3 – Released July 20
No. 2 – Released July 21
No. 1 – Released July 22