DuBOIS — The DuBois softball team grabbed an early 2-1 lead on Albert Gallatin Monday afternoon at Heindl Field, but it was all Lady Colonials from there as the third-place team from the WPIAL pulled away for a 10-2 victory in the opening round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs.
DuBois (14-8) struggled to figure out Gallatin starter Maddy Hershberger and mustered just two hits on the day — both coming in the the Lady Beavers’ two-run bottom of the second that momentarily gave them a 2-1 advantage.
However, the Lady Colonials answered right back with a four-run top of the third that seemed to take the air of the Lady Beavers’ sails in the early afternoon contest.
DuBois managed just two runners — on walks by Kacie Means and Abby Lecker — after the second inning while watching the Lady Colonials tack on a run in the fifth before putting the game out of reach with a four-run top of the seventh.
Albert Gallatin (14-4) racked up 13 hits — four for extra bases — against a pair of DuBois pitchers on its way to advancing to the second round of states against either WPIAL champ West Allegheny or Donegal (D-3 No. 5 seed). The winner of that Monday first round game was not known as of press time.
“Not the end result we wanted,” said DuBois coach Denny Nosker. “We went down and watched them last Tuesday, and we knew they could hit the ball. They had the stats to prove it, we knew their good hitters were good hitters. We gave it our best shot, and it just didn’t pan out.
The loss was a bittersweet one for a Lady Beaver senior class that was playing in the first state playoff game of their careers following a 3-2 win against Central Mountain in the District 6/9 championship game.
The game was the last high school event for the senior group of Means, Danessa Allison, Kylee Bundy, Molly Nosker, Lexi Ray and Sarah Snyder prior to graduating Monday night at Mansell Stadium.
“The six seniors, you can’t say enough about them,” said Nosker. “They’re all top of their class and all going on to college or with Kacie Means in the military. All the younger girls look up to them, and we had great leadership by everybody. Obviously, they are going to be tough to replace next year, and I feel bad for them.
“But, they helped guide this team where we ended up this year, and hopefully somebody picks up where they left off.
Both teams started the game off strong with Molly Nosker and Hershberger retiring the side in order in the first inning.
Albert Gallatin jumped on the scoreboard in the second with a little small ball.
Annalia Paoli drew a leadoff walk, then was bunted to second by Hershberger. She stayed at second as Lindsey Robinson grounded out to Allison at short, but Hannah Turttzer came through with a clutch two-out single to center to plate Paoli to make it 1-0.
DuBois came right back in the bottom half of the inning.
Maddy Ho jump-started the inning with a one-out single to right-center and scored from first when Kaylee Sadowski followed with a double to the gap in right-center.
Hershberger then got Allison to popup to third, but Maddie Smith reached on a two-out error when a throw to first base on a grounder was dropped. The ball rolled to the fence by the first-base dugout, and a hustling Sadowski came around to score from second to put DuBois up 2-1.
Abby Lecker followed with a walk, but Hershberger stopped the rally there with a strikeout of Snyder to end the inning.
Hershberger proceeded to retire 15 of the 17 batters she faced over the final five innings.
Means drew a leadoff a leadoff walk in the third, and courtesy runner Alex Volpe stole second with two out, but Hershberger stranded her there.
Lecker led off the fifth with her second walk of the game and took second on a grounder that resulted in the second out. However, Hershberger again stranded the runner at second when she got Bundy to fly out to center.
While Hershberger was silencing the DuBois bats, her teammates went to work extending the lead for the lefty.
The Lady Colonials promptly grabbed the lead back in the third, plating four runs on four hits against Nosker.
Paoli delivered the big blow — a two-out triple down the left-field line that scored the first two runs in the inning. Paoli then scored on a wild pitch pitch before Hershberger kept the inning going with a double to center.
Gallatin’s Lindsey Robinson capped the big inning with a single to left that chased home courtesy runner Gianna Kroftcheck to make it 5-2.
Nosker worked around a pair of two-out walks in the fourth, but Gallatin pushed another run across in the fifth when Paoli belted her second triple of the game to left and scored on a single by Hershberger to up the Lady Colonials lead to 6-2.
Gallatin then all but put the game away with four more runs in the seventh.
Robinson got things started with a one-out double to center. Turtzer followed with a walk that spelled the end for Nosker. Freshman Aleigha Geer came on in relief, and Harlie Vance greeted her with a single that scored pinch-runner Olivia Goodwin.
Robba followed with a single of her own to put two on before Geer got Katie kelly to fly out for our No. 2. DuBois couldn’t escape the inning though, as Ally Bezjak singled to center to plate a pair of runs.
The Lady Beavers avoided facing Paoli again though, as Maddie Flowers — who walked ahead of the single — was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on Bezjak’s hit to end the inning.
“We had two outs (in the third), and if we could have gotten out of that inning, I thin we would have had a little more life,” said Nosker. “Once you get those four runs across, you’re down by three, then they added one more. We only ended up with two hits and both were in that one inning (second).
“That was a tough pitcher though, and hats off to them. They are a good team. I wish we would have given them a little better game. I feel bad for our six seniors, but we have a lot of underclassmen that hopefully got this taste in the mouth and next year will want to get back in the this position.”