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Historic Season for C-L Softball Ends in PIAA Playoffs

ERIE, Pa. – Clarion-Limestone saw their magical season end with a 9-5 loss to Cambridge Springs on Monday afternoon at Penn State Behrend in Erie.

The loss ends a fantastic ride for C-L, where they went from the lowest seed (7) in the District 9 tournament to making the PIAA tournament.

The Lady Lions, who ended their season at 9-8 overall, trailed 9-1 heading to the seventh inning. C-L proceeded to score four runs in the top of the seventh inning, tightening the game to the final score of 9-5.

“When we came off the field in the sixth, I told the girls I didn’t know if we would score or not, but we needed to score some runs to try and extend the game,” said C-L head coach Jason Craig. “I told them to be proud no matter what because no one expected us to be here in this game. So, I am happy that they kept fighting to the end.”

Each team collected 10 hits for the game. Power was the difference for Cambridge Springs, as six of the 10 hits for the Blue Devils went for extra bases, with all six extra-base hits coming around to score.

Cambridge Springs opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, as Paige Verbanac singled to lead off the inning. Kylee Miller then walked, before Aly Acosta-Reyes laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Chloe Schultz then grounded out to shortstop to drive in Verbanac for a 1-0 lead after one.

The lead remained 1-0 until the top of the third. Abby Himes reached base on an error and stole second base. Kendall Dunn then laced a ball into the left-field gap to score Himes, and Dunn circled the bases and was initially called safe for an inside-the-park home run. However, after a conference by the four umpires, the call was reversed and Dunn was called out at the plate to end the inning and keep the score tied 1-1.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have sent her there, but at that point, I thought it could be a one or two-run game, so I took that chance,” said Craig. “She was safe at first, but then they reversed the call. The explanation I got was that the two umpires near home plate didn’t see the tag, but the third base umpire said he saw a tag so they changed the call.”

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Cambridge Springs took advantage of what turned out to be a huge error to score three runs to take a 4-1 lead. The inning began with a ground out and a nice play by Regan Husted, who came up with a nice diving catch on a ball hit by Hailee Rodgers. With two outs, Myranda Findlay hit a ball to Husted at second, but her throw pulled first baseman, Alyssa Wiant, off the base allowing Findlay to reach. The Devils would make C-L pay for the error as Kenzie Lewis hit an RBI triple, Maddie Dragosavac added an RBI double, and Verbanac hit a run-scoring single.

In the top of the fifth inning, C-L threatened to score as the Lady Lions worked three walks to load the bases sandwiched around a pop-out to second and a strikeout. However, a fly-out ended the threat leaving the bases loaded.

Cambridge Springs then added three more runs on three more extra-base hits in the fifth inning to take a 7-1 lead. After one out, Schultz doubled with Taylor Smith hitting an RBI triple. Rodgers then added an RBI double, and Findlay a run-scoring single.

The Devils then scored their final two runs in the bottom of the sixth, as Miller walked and was sacrifice bunted to second by Acosta-Reyes. Schultz then reached on a single, but Miller ventured too far off second and was tagged out by Cassidy Makray. Cambridge Springs worked around the baserunning blunder, as Smith added her second RBI triple in as many innings, while Rodgers delivered an RBI single for a 9-1 lead after six.

The C-L bats finally woke up in a big way in the top of the seventh, as Frances Milliron hit a one-out single. After a fly-out to center, Dunn singled to move Milliron to second. Makray then hit a ball that was misplayed at shortstop allowing Milliron to score, Dunn to move to third, and Makray to second. Husted then hit a two-run single. Abby Knapp and Alyssa Wiant each then hit consecutive singles, with Wiant driving in Husted to make the score 9-5. A strikeout then ended the game and the season for C-L.

“I wish it wouldn’t have taken so long for our bats to get going,” said Craig. “We got girls on in different innings but weren’t able to get that clutch hit like we’d been getting throughout the playoffs. We’re losing two seniors in Cassidy Makray and Carlley Hunter. We’re definitely excited for the next couple seasons with what we have coming back.”

Dunn, Husted, Knapp, and Wiant each had two hits for C-L. Milliron and Himes each added one hit. Dunn hit a triple for the lone extra-base hit for the Lady Lions. Husted drove in two runs while Dunn and Wiant each added one.

Verbanac, Smith, and Rodgers each had a pair of hits for Cambridge Springs. Smith hit a pair of triples with two RBI’s. Rodgers also drove in a pair of runs while hitting a double. Schultz, Findlay, Lewis, and Dragosavac each added one hit with all driving in a run. Schultz and Dragosavac each doubled while Lewis tripled.

Rodgers went the distance to pick up the win for the Devils. She allowed five unearned runs on 10 hits. She walked three and struck out five and hit one batter.

Makray took the loss allowing seven runs, four earned in 4 2/3 innings. She allowed eight hits, one walk, two strikeouts, and one hit batter. Husted pitched 1 1/3 innings allowing two earned runs on two hits with one walk.