By Chris Rossetti
BROCKWAY, Pa. – Sometimes it’s something small like a bunt base hit that gets a team going but other times it’s something tangible like Macey Hanes’ leadoff triple in the bottom of the sixth inning that spearheaded DuBois Central Catholic’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Clarion in the District 9 Class A softball championship game Tuesday at Brockway High School.
“You could feel the whole dugout just relieved at that point,” DCC manager George Heigel said. “It was huge.”
Hanes, who had struck out in her two previous plate appearances against Clarion’s Sadie Rudesyle, was behind in the count again, 1-and-2, but was able to drive a ball into the rightfield corner past rightfielder MacKenzie DiTullio for just the third Lady Cardinals hit of the game and the first extra-base hit.
“She gets out on her front foot a lot,” Heigel said. “She tells me all the time ‘coach tell me to sit down and keep my head down.’ When we get her to sit down and get her weight between her feel she levels her swing off. She squared up on the ball and hit a shot to right field.”
Clarion manager Dan Shofestall called time and gathered his team at the pitching circle.
The Lady Cats then issued what amounted to an unintentional intentional walk to Frank, who was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a flyout, to bring that basically turned into a double when Frank stole second on the first pitch to Riley Assalone.
“We were hoping, if anything, to work around her a little bit,” Shofestall said. “Credit her. She made us pay for that. We kind of went at her the first two times and had some success. You make decisions. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. That’s my call. We weren’t really trying to pitch to her. We were trying to be very selective.”
Assalone quickly tied the game at one on a sacrifice fly to center, and Frank moved up 60 feet to third base when Sydney Kiser’s throw to home was just a bit high for Rudesyle to cut off.
Freshman Ashley Wruble then came up with the biggest hit of her young career with a base hit to center that scored Frank with the go-ahead run.
“Ashley Wruble is not your normal freshman,” Heigel said. “Ashley is a top-notch player. She plays a lot of travel ball. It’s nice to know she is just a freshman.”
Hanes, Wruble and Assalone talk about their contributions and the victory.
With the 2-1 lead, Assalone, who allowed her first earned run in 56 ⅓ innings in the fourth, got Kiser to ground out for the first out.
But freshman Carly Best then hit a dribbler down the third-base line that third baseman Stephanie Rossi threw wild to first base. Best rounded the bag and thought about second, but rightfielder Tessa Sayers was backing the play up, and Best tried to retreat to first. But Sayers throw beat Best to the bag for the second out of the inning.
“We had a couple of great defensive plays,” Heigel said. “Especially, Tessa Sayers in the seventh inning for the second out when the girl rounded the base. She was backing up the overthrow. That was a great play.”
Keanna Over followed by drawing a walk, her third walk of the game against Assalone, who came into the contest having walked just 19 batters all season, but Anna Reed grounded out to Rossi to set off DCC’s celebration.
In a pitcher’s duel between Assalone, who gave up four hits and three walks while striking out three, and Rudesyle, who allowed four hits and two walks while striking out three, Clarion struck first in the top of the fourth on three straight singles, two that didn’t even reach first base.
With one out, Cora Zerfoss line a single to right for the Lady Cat’s first hit. She then stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the catcher, Frank.
Alexis Constantino then dropped down a bunt that hugged the first baseline to the chagrin of the DCC faithful, who had seen a similar play called foul the inning before. Assalone, perhaps thinking the ball was foul, didn’t make a play at first, and Zerfoss scored putting Clarion up 1-0.
Maya Thornton then followed with another bunt base hit to the pitcher putting runners at first and second and prompting a visit from Heigel to the circle.
The visit paid dividends, as Assalone got Kiser to ground into a force out with Thornton out at second and then got Best to ground back to the pitcher with runners on the corners to end the inning.
“I could see there was a little bit of frustration building there, so I went out and thought I would slow things down a little bit,” Heigel said. “It worked.”
After the fourth, Clarion never really threatened against Assalone getting a one-out single by Zerfoss, who was 2-for-3, in the sixth and the two-out walk by Over in the seventh but not getting either past first base.
“Riley has the ability to not get overly excited and to be calm when everybody else is freaking out, including me,” Heigel said. “I admire that about her. She’s a bulldog. She’s hitting her spot. She doesn’t overpower people, but she places the ball where she wants to. Her changeup was working really good today.”
Rudesyle, only a freshman, was matching Assalone pitch-for-pitch and had allowed just three baserunners going into the sixth innings.
“She’s gotten stronger and stronger through the year,” Shofestall said. “She battles and works hard at it. I give her a lot of credit, and I give a lot of credit to John Stroup, our pitching coach. If she continues to work, I think she can be a real force in this league, not that she isn’t already. She had a good future ahead of her. She did a great job for us tonight.”
Both teams move into the PIAA Tournament.
DCC (22-0) will play the second-place team out of District 5, either Meyersdale or Windber, while Clarion will play the WPIAL champion, either West Greene or Chartiers-Houston.
- With the three strikeouts and three walks, Assalone has now struck out 122 and walked 22 in 99 2/3 innings of work this year while raising her record to 17-0. She has allowed 17 runs, eight earned, on the year.
- The loss snapped a nine-game win streak for Clarion, which hadn’t lost since falling to St. Marys, May 4.
- DCC has now won two of the last three District 9 Class A titles. The Lady Cardinals beat Smethport, 4-0, in 2014, before falling to eventual state champion Elk County Catholic in last year’s semifinals.
- Clarion was in the title game for the first time since 2011, when the Lady Cats won their only D9 title while advancing to the PIAA title game. That was Clarion’s only other trip to the title game.
- It’s DCC third overall District 9 softball team. The Lady Cardinals won the Class AA title in a two-classification system in 1981 beating Curwensville. DCC is now 3-3 all time in D9 title games.
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 2, CLARION 1
Score by Innings
Clarion 000 100 0 – 1
DuB CC 000 002 X – 2
CLARION – 1
(Player) (Pos) (AB, Runs, Hits, RBIs)
Keanna Over ss 1000, Anna Reed 2b 4000, Johnna Rapp c 3000, Sadie Rudesyle p 3000, Cora Zerfoss 1b 3120, Alexis Constantino 3b 3011, Maya Thornton lf 3010, Sydney Kiser cf 3000, Carly Best dp 3000, MacKenzie DiTullio rf 0000. Totals 26-1-4-1.
DCC – 2
(Player) (Pos) (AB, Runs, Hits, RBIs)
Macey Hanes cf 3110, Jordy Frank c 2100, Riley Assalone p 2001, Ashley Wruble 2b 3011, Stephanie Rossi 3b 3010, Alyssa Bittner 1b 2010, Sabrina Spencer pr 0000, Tessa Sayers rf 2000, Caitlin Drushushak dp 1000, Madi Nasuti lf 0000, Libby Maurer ss 1000. Totals 19-2-4-2.
E – DCC: Maurer, Frank (2). LOB – Clarion 7, DCC 3. 3B – DCC: Hanes. SAC – DCC: Maurer. SF – DCC: Assalone. SB – Clarion: Zerfoss, Kiser. DCC: Rossi, Frank. CS – DCC: Wruble by Rapp.
Clarion: Sadie Rudesyle – 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
DCC: Riley Assalone – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Winning pitcher: Assalone (17-0)
Losing pitcher: Rudesyle (10-5)