WINGATE, Pa. – Finding a way.
That’s what the DuBois Central Catholic softball team did Thursday scoring two runs without the benefit of a hit and riding another strong performance in the circle from Riley Assalone to reach the PIAA Class A softball semifinals with a 3-0 win over Conemaugh Valley, the 2015 runner-up, at Bald Eagle High School.
“We are 24-0 and in the final four,” DCC manager George Heigel said. “It feels good because we are a young team and have some nice classes coming up. Much of the credit needs to go to the DuBois Little League program. Almost all of the kids came up through that program and have strong fundamentals when we get them.”
In a classic softball pitcher’s duel between Assalone and Conemaugh Valley’s Melanie Lint, Assalone never blinked while Lint saw her defense fail her a couple of times in the middle of the game before finally allowing an earned run in the seventh on a triple by Jordy Frank, Frank’s lone hit of the game and the first hit for DCC since getting two in the first inning.
But DCC didn’t need hits to get to Lint scoring in both the fourth and the sixth without one.
In the fourth, freshman Ashley Wruble led off with a walk and moved to second and third on passed balls by Conemaugh Valley catcher Alex Smith. She then scored on a one-out ground out to Lint by Alyssa Bittner.
The Lady Cardinals scored in a similar fashion in the sixth.
Assalone led off the inning by reaching on an error by shortstop Tessa Gunby. She moved to second on a groundout by Wruble and stole third before scoring on another passed ball.
DCC added an insurance run in the seventh when Hanes led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Frank’s triple.
Assalone, meanwhile, was keeping Conemaugh Valley, which lost to Elk County Catholic in last year’s PIAA title game, at bay.
She was really in trouble just once, in the third inning, when Smith led off with a single and went to third on a two-out double by Kara Pisczek. But Asalone got Lint to ground out to second baseman Wruble to end the inning.
The Blue Jays did get a runner to second with two outs in the fourth, but Assalone caught Megan Ponczek looking for one of her six strikeouts on the day. She didn’t walk anyone and allowed five hits.
Conemaugh Valley also threatened in the sixth down 2-0 when an error by leftfielder Madi Nasuti allowed Lint to reach second with one out. But Assalone struck out Alexis Novak and Gunby to end that threat.
The Blue Jays had one last hope when they got a one-out single in the seventh, but Assalone got a pop out and a ground out to send DCC to the semifinals where it will play West Greene, a 4-1 winner over District 10 champion Saegertown Thursday. West Greene beat District 9 runner-up Clarion, 12-2 in five innings, in the opening round.
DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 3, CONEMAUGH VALLEY 0
Score by Innings
DuBois Central Catholic 000 101 1 – 3
Conemaugh Valley 000 000 0 – 0
DuBois Central Catholic – 3
Player, Pos, AB, R, H, RBIs
Macey Hanes cf 4110, Jordy Frank c 4011, Riley Assalone p 4100, Ashley Wruble 2b 2110, Stephanie Rossi 3b 2000, Alyssa Bittner 1b 2001, Sabrina Spencer pr 0000, Tessa Sayters rf 3000, Caitlin Drahushak dp 3000, Libby Maurer ss 3000, Madi Nasuti lf 0000. Totals 27-3-3-2.
Conemaugh Valley – 0
Player, Pos, AB, R, H, RBIs
Brooke McCleester 2b 3000, Kara Pisczek rf 3010, Melanie Lint p 3010, Alexis Novak 1b 3000, Tessa Gunby ss 3010, Cara Cekada 3000, Megan Ponczek dp 2000, Mackenzie Stiffler ph 1010, Alex Smith c 3010, Alexis Keyser cr 0000, Sam Wilson lf 3000, Haley Rygel 3b 0000. Totals 27-0-5-0.
LOB – DCC 7. Conemaugh Valley 6. Errors – DCC 1. Conemaugh Valley 3. 2B – Piczek. 3B – Frank. SB – Hanes, Wruble, Rossi (2)
DuBois Central Catholic
Riley Assalone – 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks
Melanie Lint – 7 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks
Winning pitcher – Riley Assalone
Losing pitcher – Melanie Lint