SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Three District 9 softball teams will try to reach PIAA Championship games when they play in semifinals contest Monday, weather permitting. (Note these games will now be played Tuesday, June 11).
(Photos by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
DuBois Central Catholic will battle West Greene in the Class 1A semifinals at noon at Slippery Rock University, Cranberry will take on Frazier in the Class 2A semifinals at 2 p.m. at Slippery Rock University, and Clearfield will play Bald Eagle Area in the Class 3A semifinals at 4 p.m. at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson.
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC VS. WEST GREENE
DCC is hoping that the third time is the charm when it battles two-time defending state champion West Greene. It is the third time in four years these two have battled in the semifinals with West Greene winning in 2016, 5-2, and in 2017, 9-5.
The Lady Cardinals reached the semifinals with PIAA wins over Leechburg, 14-4 in six innings, and Claysburg-Kimmel, 6-5 in nine innings, while West Greene, which has won four straight WPIAL titles and been to the PIAA title game three straight seasons, knocked off Rockwood, 8-1, and then held off Clarion, 5-4.
DCC (16-9 – the Lady Cards are actually 25-0 on the field but had to forfeit nine games because of a paperwork issue with one of its players) is an amazing offensive team hitting .505 as a squad with 27 home runs and 129 total extra-base hits. The Lady Cardinals average 14.2 runs per game.
Senior Ashley Wruble leads the way hitting .662 with six home runs, 10 doubles and seven triples while driving in a team-leading 46 runs and scoring a team-best 47 times. It was her two-out, two-strike, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning against Claysburg-Kimmel that tied the game and forced extra innings for DCC in the quarterfinals Thursday.
Seven additional DCC players are all hitting above .500 including Shyanne Lundy (.269, 13 RBIs), Avery Sickeri (.592, 5 HR, 7 2B, 3 3B, 33 RBIs), Maia Cogley (.540, 24 RBIs), Mia Meholick (.506, 7 HR, 11 2B, 4 3B, 41 RBIs), Chelsea Busatto (.500, 1 HR, 5 2B, 1 3B, 23 RBIs) and Carley Semancik (.500, 4 HR, 10 2B, 1 3B, 33 RBIs).
Sickeri had the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth against Claysburg-Kimmel.
Leadoff hitter Shay Gulvas has added 45 runs scored while hitting .477 with a pair of home runs, 11 doubles and a triple. She has driven in 33 runs. Jordy Kosko, who hit a home run in the quarterfinals, is also hitting .435 with two homers, nine doubles, two triples and 30 RBIs, while Alyssa Bittner is hitting .405 with 22 RBIs.
West Greene (21-4), which has lost just once since a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. in March, is a good offensive team as well that does it more with speed than power.
While the Pioneers are hitting .408 as a team, they have hit only 12 home runs but have legged out 17 triples to go with 47 doubles and have also stolen 76 bases in 79 tries.
The Lampe twins set the stage for West Greene.
McKenna Lampe is the team’s leading hitter at .558 with two home runs, two triples, nine doubles and 24 RBIs while tying for the team lead with 43 runs scored. She has stolen 23 bases in 23 tries.
Madison Lampe hits .488 with four home runs, eight doubles, three triples and 33 RBIs while scoring 39 times and stealing 10 bases.
Kaitlyn Rizor chimes in at .518 with two home runs, 13 doubles, six triples and 35 RBIs while also scoring 43 runs, while Jenna Renner is hitting .513 with 37 RBIs and 40 runs scored.
In the circle, DCC has taken to using two pitchers most of the year.
Wruble is 14-0 with a 1.78 ERA. In 55 innings she has struck out 55 while walking 13. Freshman Morgan Tyler is 9-0 with a 1.41 ERA. In 59 ⅔ innings of work, she has struck out 105 while walking 18.
Renner, a lefty, is the go-to in the circle for West Greene. She is 20-4 with a 1.61 ERA. In 126 innings of work, she has struck out 121 and walked 13 but she is coming off a game against Clarion where she didn’t record a strikeout and allowed four seventh-inning runs before stranding the tying run at first.
The winner will take on the winner of the Millersburg/Williams Valley game that is slated for 2 p.m. Monday at Lebanon Valley College in the championship game at 11 a.m. Friday, June 14, at Beard Field at the Nittany Lion Softball Park on the campus of Penn State University.
CRANBERRY VS. FRAZIER
Cranberry (15-5), the District 9 champion, is trying to add to what has already been a historic season for the Berries.
A come-from-behind 7-6 win over Laurel in the quarterfinals Friday put Cranberry into the PIAA semifinals for the first time in school history. That victory came on the heels of a 10-1 win over Freedom in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A tournament.
Frazier (19-4), the WPIAL runner-up for the second straight year, shook off a 9-3 loss to Laurel in the WPIAL title game by beating Marion Center, 9-6, and then Chartiers-Houston, 4-3, to reach the semifinals.
Both teams can hit the softball.
In a lineup that has every regular hitting at least .300, Cranberry is paced by its senior first baseman Rachel McCauley, who has hit safely in 19 of 20 games this season after having her 19-game hitting streak ended in the win over Laurel.
McCauley is hitting a team-leading .582 with 10 doubles, three home runs, two triples and a team-high 32 RBIs.
Megan Hadden is batting .476 with eight doubles, three homers, two triples and 23 RBIs and is tied for the team lead with 27 RBIs, while Malliah Schreck chimes in at .397 with eight doubles, two home runs, three triples and 16 RBIs while also scoring 27 times.
Kaylie Bruce gives the Berries three batters hitting at least .400 coming in at .400 with 20 RBIs with Maris Anderson batting .396 with 13 RBIs.
Frazier is also solid one through nine in its order with everyone hitting at least .300 led by Kathryn Barch, Emi Curcio and Rylee Evans.
Barch is hitting .484 with 22 RBIs, while Curico is batting .431 with 20 RBIs and Evans .422 with 19 RBIs. Curico has scored a team-best 27 runs with Barch adding 25 runs scored.
Leadoff hitter Logan Hartman leads the team with 27 RBIs while scoring 24 runs and hitting .397 with Julianna Johnson chiming in at .394 with 11 RBIs.
Andrea Watson will take the ball for Cranberry in the circle.
She is 10-4 on the year with a 1.94 ERA. In 90 ⅓ innings of work, she has struck out 66 and walked 40.
Hartman is the go-to hurler for the Commodores.
She is 18-4 on the season with a 1.11 ERA. In 133 innings she has struck out 178 while walking just 27.
The winner will play the winner of the other semifinal game between Susquenita and Brandywine Heights. That game is being played at 4 p.m. at Lebanon Valley College. The championship game is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, June 13, at Beard Field at the Nittany Lion Softball Park on the campus of Penn State University.
CLEARFIELD VS. BALD EAGLE AREA
Clearfield is hoping the Cinderella shoe continues to lead the way to the ball when it takes on Mountain League rival Bald Eagle Area in the semifinals.
A win by the Lady Bison would mean a heck of a turnaround against a Lady Eagles team that has beaten Clearfield twice this season by a combined scored of 26-2. That includes a 17-2 thumping in the season opener taken by the Lady Bison March 26 in Heye and a 9-0 loss at Bald Eagle April 18.
Clearfield, which was just 6-7 after a loss to Philipsburg-Osceola April 29, entered the District 9 playoffs just a game over .500 at 10-9 but beat Brookville, 12-0, and two-time defending champion Karns City, 5-1, to win its first D9 title since 2007. It then knocked off District 5/6 runner-up Chestnut Ridge, 4-3, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs before topping WPIAL champion Avonworth, 2-1, in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals for the first time in school history.
Bald Eagle Area (21-3), the District 5/6 champion after a 9-5 win over Chestnut Ridge, beat South Park, 6-1, in the first round of the PIAA Playoffs before taking down Keystone Oaks, 4-2, in the quarterfinals.
Expect this game to be lower scoring than the first two contests.
Clearfield freshman pitcher Emma Hipps is in a groove having allowed just seven earned runs since April 27.
On the year, Hipps is 14-9 with a 1.62 ERA. In 143 innings she has struck out 228 and walked 40. That includes 41 strikeouts and seven walks in 26 postseason innings while allowing five runs, three earned, during that span.
Hipps and Clearfield will be opposed by Madison Peters.
Peters is 18-3 on the season with a 1.55 ERA. She has struck out 148 and walked 23 in 139 ⅔ innings of work.
Pitching is the name of the game for both teams, as neither has a stud all-around offense.
Hipps is Clearfield’s leading hitter at .427 with six home runs, eight doubles and a triple while driving in 18. All but one of her homers came by April 23, and she hasn’t hit one since May 15, although she is 5 of 13 in postseason action.
Fellow freshmen Olivia Bender and Lauren Ressler – the Lady Bison have six freshmen and a sophomore and just one senior among its regulars – are both hitting over .300.
Bender, the catcher, checks in at .347 with five doubles, a homer and 18 RBIs, while Ressler is batting .333 with seven doubles, two triples and 16 RBIs.
Karly Rumsky, the lone senior in the starting lineup, is hitting .297 with eight RBIs and 19 runs scored.
Mara Hockenberry is the leading hitter for BEA at .413 with 19 RBIs, while Makena Baney (.33, 14 RBIs), Marlaee Caldana (.316, 15 RBIs in just 38 ABs), Kayleigh Kinley (.310, 14 RBIs) and Peterson (.306, 24 RBIs) all check in at over .300 as well.
The winner will take on the winner of the other semifinal game between Pine Grove Area and Bloomsburg. That game is slated for 4 p.m. at the Drifton Softball Complex in Hazelton. The title game is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, at Beard Field at the Nittany Lion Softball Park on the campus of Penn State University.
NOTES: Three District 9 softball teams have reached the PIAA Championship game since 2015 with Elk County Catholic winning the 2015 Class 1A title, Moniteau finishing as the 2A runner-up in 2016 and Punxsutawney claiming the Class 4A title in 2018.