DUBOIS, Pa. – Sometimes it’s about getting hot at the right time.
That is exactly what has happened to the Elk County Catholic softball team on its path to a third District 9 Class 1A title this decade thanks to a 13-7 win over Coudersport in the championship game Wednesday at Heindl Memorial Field in DuBois.
“It means so much,” junior left field Sady VanAlstine, who was 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs out of the No. 9 hole said. “We’ve went through every year improving so much, and finally we achieved (the District title).”
Watch more of VanAlstine’s thoughts on the win.
ECC was the fourth seed coming into the tournament, and the Lady Crusaders seemed like nothing more than a slightly better than .500 team after a 10-0 loss to DuBois Central Catholic May 10.
But since that defeat, ECC has found its rhythm going 5-1 while averaging 13.5 runs per game, including 10.3 runs per game in three postseason wins.
“I think after that DCC game, we needed to refocus,” ECC manager Wes Meyer said. “It wasn’t that we played badly that game, we just didn’t play the game we wanted to play. We just refocused as a team. We had high aspirations coming into this season, and we weren’t getting it done. We refocused, started looking at the things that were holding us back. In practice, we worked on them and worked on them. I think the results were evident in the last two weeks of the season.”
The results, especially offensively, were evident Wednesday when the Lady Crusaders pounded out 16 hits, including three extra-base hits while scoring in every inning but the sixth and putting up multiple runs in the first (two), fourth (three) and fifth (six) innings.
“We are really momentum driven,” VanAlstine said. “Once we get one hit we keep going with them.”
VanAlstine was one of five ECC hitters with multi-hit days.
Leadoff batter Jenna Weisner was 3-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and three RBIs, No. 2 hitter Brandi Clyde was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, No. 3 hitter Josie Smith was 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and three RBIs and pitcher Michelle Gerber was 2-for-4 with an RBI with her courtesy runner, Maddie Taylor, scoring twice.
“Up and down the lineup, we had multiple hits per batter,” Meyer said. “I can’t say enough about the way we have been hitting the ball throughout the district playoffs. And we need to keep doing this going forward if we want to be successful.”
The game was a back-and-forth affair through the first three innings with the teams tied at four after three.
But ECC started showing its dominance in the fourth when it scored three runs on four hits with Jenna Weisner’s two-run single to left breaking the tie, and Clyde following with an RBI single to center, her second run-scoring single of the game.
The Lady Crusaders then broke the game wide open in the sixth when they sent nine batters to the plate and scored six runs on five hits and a walk.
Smith had the game-breaking hit, a bases-loaded, bases-clearing triple three batters after VanAlstine’s two-run single had made it 9-4. Smith then scored the lucky 13th run for ECC on a wild pitch.
That was plenty of runs for Gerber, who allowed just six hits through the first six innings before getting tagged with five hits and three runs in the seventh, including a two-run blast to left field by Shaelyn Black, who had an outstanding offensive game for Coudersport going 3-for-4 with two doubles, the home run, two runs scored and three RBIs.
Black had also tied the game for the Lady Falcons in the third with a one-out double that followed a Joplin Osgood two-bagger, and Black then scored to give Coudersport its only lead of the game, 4-3, on a two-out single to center by Paiton Whipple in the third.
But after leading 2-0 after one and 3-2 after two, ECC didn’t allow a one-run deficit to mean very much tying the game right back up on an RBI fielder’s choice by Gerber in the bottom of the third that scored Smith, who had singled leading off the inning.
“Even when we gave up that lead, I wasn’t worried,” Meyer said. “We’ve come back from deficits like that before. (We) responded right away in (our) half of the inning, and we were right back in it.”
RBI hits from Clyde and Rosina Nero in the first inning had given ECC the early 2-0 lead before an error and an RBI groundout from Claudia Miller in the second tied the game at two.
A wild pitch in the bottom of the second scored Taylor, who was running for Gerber, who had singled leading off the inning and gone to second on an error, to give ECC the lead back 3-2.
The final run for Coudersport came on a Page single in the seventh that scored Easton, who was 2-for-4 in the game with two runs scored. Whipple was also 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI for Coudersport.
The win was especially impressive for ECC considering the Lady Crusaders could have easily had a letdown after their 8-6 upset of top-seeded and two-time defending champion DCC Saturday.
“We had that conversation in practice the other day,” Meyer said. “It was a very big deal beating DCC with all they have accomplished the last three years. But we said that was just one step on this journey to a district championship. We needed to maintain our focus and come in and play hard today. That is what they did. All through practice this week, we maintained our focus on this game and then they came in and played like it.”
Both teams move into the PIAA playoffs. ECC will take on the third-place team out of the WPIAL, Union-New Castle, while Coudersport will face the second-place team out of District 5, either McConnellsburg or Meyersdale, who play for the District 5 title Thursday.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 13, COUDERSPORT 7
Score by Innings
Coudersport 022 000 3 – 7
Elk Co. Cath. 211 36 x – 13
COUDERSPORT – 7
Chelsey Streich 3b 3000, Emma Powell cf 2000, Erica Williams ph 1110, Joplin Osgood ss 4110, Shaelyn Black 1b 4233, EmmaRae Easton 2b 4220, Paiton Whipple lf 3121, Rozalyn Page c 4011, Sarah Chambers cr 0000, Madison Smith p 4010, Hope Daisey 0000, Claudia Miller dp 3001, Tori Miller rf 0000. Totals 32-7-11-6.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC – 13
Jenna Weisner ss 4332, Brandi Clyde 1b 3222, Josie Smith 2b 4223, Rosina Nero c 4011, Morgan Wolf cr 0000, Maggie Dinsmore dp 3010, Emily Wolf cf/flex/ph 1000, Michelle Gerber p 4021, Maddie Taylor cr 0200, Hannah Barnett 3b 4110, Brianna Weisner rf 3110, Sady VanAlstine lf 3232, Emily Wolf cf 0000. Totals 33-13-16-11.
LOB: Coudersport 5. ECC 2. Errors: Coudersport 3. ECC 1. 2B: Osgood, Black (2). Jenna Weisner, VanAlstine. 3B: Josie Smith. HR: Black. SAC: Powell. SB: Daisey. CS: Morgan Wolf (Page to Osgood. Smith pitching). D: Coudersport 1 (Osgood to Black on pop fly).
Madison Smith 6 IP, 16 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Elk County Catholic
Michelle Gerber 7 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K