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Elk County Catholic Holds Off Late Forest Rally to Move on to PIAA Playoffs

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — The Elk County Catholic softball team was cruising through the middle innings, enjoying a smooth trek into the PIAA playoffs.

Forest, though, made things a bit bumpy.

Trailing 8-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Fires scored three times to cut the deficit to one run. Forest had the winning run at the plate when ECC pitcher Emily Mourer was able to get Izzy Flick, who had been 3-for-3 on the day, to ground out and end the game Thursday afternoon in a “true” second-place District 9 Class A game.

The 8-7 win sends the Crusaders to the state playoffs; the loss ends a remarkable season for the Fires.

ECC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Lydia Anderson that scored Lucy Klawuhn.

That lead swelled to 3-0 in the top of the second when Klawuhn singled home Sarah Hassleman. The throw to second to try to nab Klawuhn allowed Ellie Baron to score, too.

Forest, though, responded.

The Fires roared back to tie the game at 3-3 with three runs in the bottom of the second inning.

Maggie Boehme and Flick led off with back-to-back singles, and then with two outs, Brenna Thompson loaded the bases with an infield single.

That set the stage for Emma McFarland, who cleared the bases with a double.

The Forest momentum was short-lived.

Anderson and Mourer led off the top of the third with a single and a double and Caitlyn Vollmer brought them both home with a two-run single to give ECC a 5-3 lead.

Forest cut it to 5-4 in the bottom of the frame on a RBI single by Flick that scored Madison McFarland, but ECC scored twice in the fifth and once more in the sixth to lead 8-4.

The Fires made things interesting in the seventh.

Thompson and Emma McFarland started the frame with back-to-back singles and moved up on a groundout by Oswald. With one out Madison McFarland drove them home to trim the deficit to 8-6.

Emily Aites then made it 8-7 with a RBI groundout.

With two outs, Boehme had a 10-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk. But Mourer was able to escape and send ECC to the state playoffs.

Vollmer was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, Klawuhn went 2-for-4 with a triple to start the game and knocked in two, and Anderson was 1-for-3 with two RBIs for Elk County Catholic, which lost to district champion DuBois Central Catholic and then came back to beat Otto-Eldred in a consolation game to get a chance to Forest with a trip to the PIAA tournament on the line.

Forest fell to DCC in the championship game Monday.

ECC had lost four of its last five games before beating Otto-Eldred and Forest to advance.

Emma McFarland went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Madison McFarland was 2-for-3 and knocked in two, and Thompson also had a pair of hits for Forest.

Mourer got the win for the Crusaders, giving up seven runs on 12 hits in seven innings. She struck out two and walked two.

Flick picked up the loss. In seven innings she gave up eight runs — five earned — on nine hits, struck out seven and walked three.

The Fires finished the season 16-5 and advanced to the district championship game for the first time in the history of North Clarion, East Forest and West Forest — the three schools that make up the Forest softball co-op.

ECC (16-8) will play District 10 champion Saegertown in the first round of the PIAA playoffs Monday at a site and time to be determined.