STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It’s such a long and arduous journey to the state championship game.
(Above, DuBois Central Catholic seniors Savannah Morelli, Madison Hoyt. Emma Suplizio and Morgan Tyler hoist the PIAA runner-up trophy after the loss to Montgomery.)
The road is fraught with obstacles. Sharp turns, steep hills, low valleys. Exhilarating peaks.
The DuBois Central Catholic softball team navigated all the perils. The cold and snow and rain in the early spring. The oppressive heat in the state playoffs.
When it came down to it, though, the Cardinals couldn’t avoid two more hazards — the second and sixth innings — in a 5-1 loss to Montgomery on an overcast Thursday morning at Beard Field on the campus of Penn State University.
There were sobs. Disappointment was palpable. But once the tears dry and the chagrin tempers, DCC will be able to celebrate its remarkable season that included a District 9 title and a run to Happy Valley.
Montgomery, though, was the team celebrating a state championship on Thursday.
The Red Raiders had 15 hits against DCC’s pitching tandem of Melia Mitskavich and Morgan Tyler. Meanwhile Faith Persing was as advertised in the circle for Montgomery, scattering four hits and striking out six in an efficient, 85-pitch complete-game victory.
Montgomery got two runs in the top of the second inning against Mitskavich.
Jenna Waring singled to start the inning and moved to second on an error. Brynn McRae followed with another single to load the bases for Courtney Smith, who lined an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
Persing helped herself with an RBI single to chase Mitskavich, who has been strong in the circle down the stretch for DuBois Central Catholic.
But the Red Raiders were on her from the start with six hits in her 1⅓ innings.
Tyler staunched the bleeding and pitched well, keeping DCC in the game and giving the Cardinals their best chance in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Savannah Morelli, who was 3-for-3, led off with her second double of the game. After a fly out, Jessy Frank doubled Morelli home to cut the lead to 2-1.
An error put runners on second and third, but Persing got a pop up in foul ground near first base and a pop up to short to end the threat.
It was a big turning point as Montgomery got three runs in the top of the sixth to ostensibly put the game away.
Smith led off with a single and an error put runners on the corners. Persing again delivered with a RBI single and Sloan Wooten followed with a single of her own to load the bases.
A double play went a long way to getting Tyler out of the jam, but Taylor McRae had a clutch, two-run single up the middle to give Montgomery a comfortable 5-1 lead.
Morelli led off the seventh with her third hit of the game, but Persing got a strikeout, flyout and pop-up to herself to end the game and give the Red Raiders the state championship.
It’s the first state title for the Red Raiders (22-4). They were last in the championship game in 2010.
DCC (22-3) was back after reaching the state final in 2019, where the Cardinals lost to Williams Valley, 5-0.
It was the final game in cardinal red for DCC seniors Madison Hoyt, Emma Suplizio, Tyler and Morelli.