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CHAMPS AGAIN: DuBois Central Catholic Wins Fifth Straight District 9 Class A Softball Title, Edging Northern Potter, 2-1

DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Rylee Kulbatsky practices getting into and out of trouble.

The sophomore pitcher on the DuBois Central Catholic softball team puts herself in tough situations in the circle in practice and then devises ways of getting out of it.

Lucky for her, she gets in far fewer pickles in reality than she does in simulation.

But Kulbatsky and the Cardinals found themselves in a tussle on Wednesday afternoon against Northern Potter in the District 9 Class A championship game at Heindl Field.

They were up to that real challenge.

Kulbatsky was brilliant again, giving up just one run on two hits and striking out 18, and the DCC offense did just enough for emerge with a 2-1 win.

“Mentally I just breathe and give my nerves to God,” Kulbatsky said.

There were a lot of them to give in a rare close game for DCC this season.

The Cardinals have run roughshod over opponents on their schedule, winning most of their games handily.

Not against a Northern Potter team that had just returned to the diamond this season after a four-year hiatus.

DuBois Central Catholic (19-2) got a run in the bottom of the first inning on a double by Melia Mitskavich and then added what proved to be the game-winner on a RBI single by freshman Lily Davidson in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

Northern Potter scored its lone run in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Kayla Hyde and then, after a two-out walk, Kulbatsky got a strikeout to end the game and hand the Cardinals their fifth consecutive district crown.

Kulbatsky went over 200 strikeouts this season and is just six shy of 300. 

She has a 0.57 ERA and in 98 innings pitched this season has struck out 209 and walked just 19. Opponents are batting a paltry .105 against her.

“Winning D9 today was awesome,” Kulbatsky said. “It feels amazing to be a part of such an incredible team and to contribute those 18 Ks. The support from my teammates, especially by catcher (Jessy Frank), has been so crucial in our success. It’s moments like these that make all the hard work worth it.”

The seven seniors on the DCC roster have known nothing other than being district champs.

“For our seven seniors, this is the fourth district championship in a row,” Mitskavich said. “We have all been working so hard, so it feels good for that to pay off and it means a lot.”

The one thing missing? A state title.

Two years ago, DCC got to the championship game, but lost. Last year, the Cardinals were knocked out in the first round of the state postseason. It’s left a bitter taste in their mouths.

“We hope to keep our momentum going into the state playoffs with the goal of the state championship in the back of our heads,” Mitskavich said.

Freshman Jaylyn Williammee took the loss. She kept a potent DCC lineup in check, giving up just those two runs on six hits and striking out eight.

Emma Haynes had a double for the Panthers.

DCC will open the PIAA Class A playoffs on Monday against the loser of the Chartiers-Houston and Union-New Castle District 7 championship game, which will be played at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Kulbatsky is ready for anything — real or imagined.

“Having teammates who always have your back, especially your catcher, is crucial in those moments, and I am very fortunate to have that,” she said. “Their support and encouragement make all the difference in those intense moments.”