Four District 9 softball teams and one baseball team are in action in the second round of the PIAA playoffs Thursday, June 6. Here is a quick look at each game.
(Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC (15-9*) VS. CLAYBURG-KIMMEL (19-4)
*DCC hasn’t lost a game on the field this year going 24-0 but had to forfeit nine games for using an illegible player
When: 2:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6
Where: Mount Aloysius College in Cresson
Winner Gets: Winner of Clarion/West Greene game in the semifinals Monday, June 10.
Managers: DCC – George Heigel; Claysburg-Kimmel – Mike Barbarini
How they got here: DCC beat Clarion, 7-2, in the District 9 title game then beat Leechburg, 14-4 in 6 innings, in the PIAA playoffs; Claysburg-Kimmel beat Portage, 20-4, in six innings in the District 6 title game then beat Union-New Castle, 11-7, in the PIAA playoffs.
Top DCC Players: Ashley Wruble, Avery Sickeri, Maia Cogley, Mia Meholick
Top Claysburg-Kimmel Players: Harleigh Cavender, Emily Claar, Olivia Bushore, Haileigh Reed
About DCC: The Lady Cardinals haven’t lost a game on the field going 25-0 this year although they were forced to forfeit nine games when it was discovered that proper paperwork on a transfer player hadn’t been filed correctly … DCC’s last on-the-field loss came in the second round of the PIAA playoffs to Claysburg-Kimmel, 5-4, when Claysburg-Kimmel erased a 3-1 deficit with a four-run sixth inning that was helped by three consecutive walks to lead off that innings … DCC can hit the ball sporting a team batting average of .515 while averaging 14 runs per game led by Wruble’s .662 with six home runs and 43 RBIs. Sickeri is also hitting .606 with five dingers, while Meholick is batting .513 with seven home runs including homers in each of DCC’s last two games. Morgan Tyler has taken over in the circle and is 8-0 with a 1.04 ERA while striking out 97 in just 53 ⅔ innings.
About Claysburg-Kimmel: The Bulldogs have won back-to-back D6 titles and advanced to the semifinals last year before losing to Williams Valley. Cavender is the team’s leading hitter at .514 with seven home runs, while Reed has 10 homers and 55 RBIs while hitting .482. Bushore is 14-2 with a 1.72 ERA but is not a strikeout pitcher having “Ked” 105 in 89 ⅓ innings of work. Claysburg-Kimmel enters the game having won seven in a row since a 4-3 loss to Glendale May 2 and have given up just 15 runs during the streak.
CLARION (18-5) VS. WEST GREENE (20-4)
When: 2 p.m., Thursday, June 6 (game is now 2 p.m. June 7)
Where: Slippery Rock University
Winner Gets: Winner of DuBois Central Catholic/Claysburg-Kimmel game in the semifinals Monday, June 10.
Managers: Clarion – Dan Shofestall; West Greene – William Simms
How they got here: Clarion fell 7-2 to DuBois Central Catholic in the District 9 title game but then beat Otto-Eldred, 4-0, to win the D9 true second-place game to get into the PIAA playoffs. The Lady Cats knocked off Commodore Perry, 6-0, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs; West Greene won the WPIAL title with an 11-0, six-inning win over Union-New Castle in the WPIAL title game then beat Rockwood, 8-1, in the PIAA playoffs.
Top Clarion Players: Kait Constantino, Carly Best, Jordan Best, Brenna Campbell
Top West Greene Players: McKenna Lampe, Kaitlyn Rizor, Madison Lampe, Jade Renner
About Clarion: The Lady Cats have won 11 of its past 13 games including getting its first PIAA playoff win since going to the Class 1A title game in 2011 Monday … Constantino is a big reason for the success. She has struck out 56 batters in 35 postseason innings and has given up nine runs in those innings while allowing runs in just two of the 35 innings in the postseason. She is currently on a streak of 20 ⅓ scoreless innings. On the year, she is 16-5 with a 1.58 ERA and has struck out 239 in 137 innings. Since May 10 she is 6-2 with a 1.00 ERA and has struck out 104 in 56 innings.
About West Greene: The Pioneers have won three straight WPIAL titles and two consecutive PIAA titles while appearing in the PIAA title game three straight years. On their way to the 2016 PIAA runner-up spot, they beat Clarion, 12-2 in five innings, in the first round … West Greene has won six in a row since a 2-0 loss to Frazier May 6 and has won 19 of 20 since starting the season 1-3 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. … The Lampes are twins who are both hitting at least .500 (McKenna .553 and Madison .500) while Rizor is hitting .544 with 13 doubles, six triples and two home runs. Renner is the pitcher and is 19-4 with a 1.47 ERA. She has struck out 121 in 119 innings of work.
CRANBERRY (14-5) VS. LAUREL (21-2)
When: Noon, Thursday, June 6 (game is now at noon at June 7)
Where: Slippery Rock University
Winner Gets: Winner of Frazier/Chartiers-Houston game in semifinals Monday, June 10
Managers: Cranberry – Glenn Barcinas; Laurel – Frank Duddy
How they got here: Cranberry beat Redbank Valley, 16-5, to win the District 9 title and then beat Freedom, 10-1, in the PIAA first round; Laurel won the WPIAL title by beating Frazier, 9-3, and then beat Wilmington, 5-3, in the PIAA first round.
Top Cranberry Players: Rachel McCauley,, Malliah Schreck, Andrea Watson
Top Laurel Players: Kayla Ruperto, Mackenzie Latess
About Cranberry: The Berries won a PIAA playoff game for the first time in school history Monday thanks in large part to five RBIs from McCauley and a strong outing from Watson in the circle, who gave up a run before getting an out but shut down Freedom the rest of the way … Cranberry has won back-to-back District 9 Class 2A titles and has played in three straight 2A title games … After starting the season 6-5, Cranberry has won eight straight games … Two of the Berries five losses have come to teams that are still playing – Clarion (which the Berries split with) and DuBois Central Catholic … McCauley is hitting .633 with nine doubles, two triples and three home runs while driving in 28, while Schreck is hitting .408 with nine doubles, three triples, two home runs and 22 RBIs.
About Laurel: The Spartans are the two-time defending WPIAL champions but are in the second round for the first time in that span after losing to Cochranton in the first round last season. Laurel’s two losses this year have come to Neshannock, which was beaten by Freedom in the WPIAL quarterfinals, 7-2. Laurel then beat Freedom, 12-2, in the WPIAL semifinals … Ruperto has pitched and hit Laurel to its last two playoff wins. She took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of the WPIAL title game while striking out nine and also had two doubles and a home run in that game then hit another home run while shutting down Wilmington in the PIAA playoffs with 12 strikeouts. She has 51 RBIs on the season … Latess has driven in a team-best 56 runs this year and has also gone deep in each of the last two games … Laurel has given up only 39 runs all season.
CLEARFIELD (13-9) VS. AVONWORTH (21-2)
When: 2:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6
Where: St. Francis University, Loretto, Pa.
Winner Gets: Winner of Keystone Oaks/Bald Eagle Area game in semifinals Monday, June 10
Managers: Clearfield – Derek Danver; Avonworth – Chris Knox
How they got here: Clearfield beat Karns City, 5-1, to win its first D9 title since 2007 and then beat Chestnut Ridge, 4-3, to win its first PIAA playoff game since 2000; Avonworth beat Keystone Oaks, 12-0 in five innings, to win the WPIAL title then topped Fort LeBoeuf, 8-1, in the PIAA playoffs
Top Clearfield Players: Emma Hipps, Olivia Bender, Lauren Ressler, Karly Rumsky
Top Avonworth Players: Sarah Helffrich, Dominique Raught, Natalie Marshall, Maya Kozup, Leah Logan
About Clearfield: The Lady Bison were just 6-7 following a loss to Philipsburg-Osceola April 29 but have won seven of nine since then with the only losses coming to D9 4A champ Punxsutawney, 1-0 in eight innings, and Central-Martinsburg. They have won five of six heading into Thursday … Clearfield is a super young team with the top three hitters, including pitcher Hipps, all freshman while a sophomore also gets into the top five hitters … Hipps is 11-8 on the year with a 1.63 ERA. She has struck out 209 in 129 innings of work and is also hitting a team-leading .435 with six home runs. She has allowed just two earned runs in 48 ⅔ innings since May 1 while striking out 76 during that stretch.
About Avonworth: Avonworth enters action Thursday having won eight in a row since an April 23 loss to Lincoln. That includes winning the school’s first WPIAL softball title; That game was played in unique fashion as the game was halted by weather last Wednesday an then continued last Thursday … Helffrich led the Antelopes in the PIAA playoff win throwing a 3-hitter while also going 4-for-4 at the plate. Helffrich also hit a grand slam in the WPIAL title-game win and added a double in that game … Logan also has power and hit a home run in the WPIAL title game victory.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC (16-8) VS. BISHOP MCCORT (16-7)
When: 4:30 p.m., Thursday, June 6
Where: Kuntz Field in Punxsutawney
Winner Gets: Winner of California/West Middlesex game in semifinals Monday, June 10
Managers: ECC – James Slay; Bishop McCort – Chris Pfeil
How they got here: ECC beat Otto-Eldred, 12-2 in five innings, to win the District 9 champion and then walked-off Vincentian Academy, 4-3, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs; Bishop McCort beat St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, 4-3, to win the District 6 title and then topped Union-New Caste, 2-1, in the PIAA first round.
Top ECC Players: Taylor Boland, Hunter Cashmer, Alec Wehler, Ryan Fritz
Top Bishop McCort Players: Brendon Bair, Zach Ramach, Will Miller
About ECC: The Crusaders were just 4-5 following a 10-0 loss to DuBois Central Catholic April 17 but have gong 12-3 since then while winning five of their last six games … All three of ECC’s top pitchers are eligible against Bishop McCort. Cashmer will most likely get the start. Cashmer is 5-3 with a 2.20 ERA. He has 47 strikeouts in 51 innings of work. Brady Schneider, who got the win in relief against Vincentian when he threw three innings and 50 pitches, is 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA. He has 32 strikeouts in 31 ⅔ innings of work. Boland, who started Monday and went four innings throwing 75 pitches, is 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA. He has 41 strikeouts in 43 ⅔ innings of work … Boland is the team’s top hitter with a .358 mark with Wehler coming in hitting .343 and Fritz, who had the walk-off hit against Vincentian, hitting .310 … ECC beat Bishop McCort, 1-0, in the 2014 semifinals on its way to a second-place finish in the PIAA bracket that season.
About Bishop McCort: The Crushers have a long history of successful baseball having reached the title game three times since 2012 winning the Class 1A championship in 2012 and losing in the Class 2A title game in both 2016 and 2017 … Bishop McCort actually entered the District 6 playoffs on a two-game losing streak but has rebounded to win three in a row in postseason play, winning the three games by a combined four runs … Bair, the No. 1 starter, won’t be available to the Crushers against ECC having thrown 93 pitches in Monday’s win over Union-New Castle. He is 3-3 with a 1.05 ERA on the season. Bishop McCort will, therefore, most likely turn to one of two seniors to start against the Crusaders. Matt Mosholder is 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA. He has 57 strikeouts in 48 innings. Ryan Flowers is also 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA. He has struck out 46 in 26 ⅔ innings of work … Bair is the team’s leading hitter batting .343 with seven extra-base hits and 23 RBIs. Ramach hits .329 with 20 RBIs.