SENECA, Pa. (EYT/D9) — As Cranberry players kicked up dust during a wild celebration on their home field, coach Chrissy Shumaker was a bit more reflective.
“God, they’re great kids,” said the Berries’ softball coach, smile beaming, after her team gutted out an 8-7 win over Greensburg Central Catholic in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs on Monday afternoon.
She chuckled as she watched her players stream to the home fans lined up along the fence at Cranberry Area High School.
“They’re great kids,” she repeated. “You can see it in their faces. They’re not done. They’re still fighting.”
(Cranberry celebrates its 8-7 win over Greensburg Central Catholic)
Cranberry had to fight and claw in a back-and-forth game.
The Berries led 4-0 after two innings, but the Centurions clawed back to 4-3 in the top of the fourth. Cranberry added a run to its lead in the bottom of the inning, but Greensburg Central Catholic scored three in the top of the fifth, the big blow a two-run single by pitcher Emma Henry, to take a 6-5 lead.
Cranberry was undaunted.
The Berries scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-6 lead, watched as GCC tied the game again in the top of the seventh, but won it with on a walk-off thanks to a leadoff bloop double by Denali Wenner and then a throwing error on a ground ball by freshman Jadyn Shumaker that allowed courtesy runner Katelyn Beggs to hesitate, then scamper home.
“As teammates, we have to back each other up,” Jadyn Shumaker said. “If one falls down, the other one just has to pick us up. We’ve had some tough games and we battled through and we battled back. It’s been huge for us. It’s exciting for our seniors, because this is the last time they get to play high school softball. I have a lot more years. Them, not so much, so we want to keep playing for them.”
And keep playing the Berries will.
Reyna Watson got the win, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
She got some big outs along the way, limiting Greensburg Central Catholic damage during a seven-inning, 140-pitch outing.
(Cranberry’s Reyna Wilson makes a pitch during a win over Greensburg Central Catholic)
Watson gave up seven runs, four earned, on nine hits. She struck out six and walked five.
“I wasn’t stressed,” Watson said. “I had to adjust to the umpire’s strike zone and just push through it. I was pretty calm.”
Jadyn Shumaker, the No. 8 hitter, went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs. Lexi Reisinger, the No. 9 hitter, doubled and also had two RBIs.
Cranberry has won six of the last seven, including the District 9 championship game a week ago, largely because of a blooming offense.
“Our hitting has come alive,” said Coach Shumaker. “It’s the whole group. Tonight, it was the bottom of our lineup that did more damage.”
Rylee Coe also had two hits for Cranberry (14-7), which will play District 5 champion Everett (23-0) on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.
Watson danced around trouble all game.
She limited Greensburg Central Catholic to just three runs in the fifth despite the Centurions loading the bases with no outs. She also limited them to just one run in the seventh after a leadoff triple by Macee Magill.
“I don’t even know the words right now for her,” Coach Shumaker said. “Tough as nails. Heart of stone. She battled so hard the entire game.”
The coach said she knew this was going to be a tight game. Both teams have played some back-and-forth affairs this season.
This was certainly no different.
“It was probably enjoyable to watch,” Coach Shumaker said. “Not so much for us. My coaching staff felt we were pretty evenly matched and it was going to be a game like this. Everybody’s good now. We knew it was going to be this way and we never quit.”