ST. MARYS — The Punxsutawney Minor League All-Star softball team jumped out to an early 3-1 lead Thursday against St. Marys before pulling off a 4-3 walk-off victory in seven innings to earn a spot in the District 10 championship game.
Down two runs, St. Marys pulled even with a pair of run in the top of the fifth.
Maddie Lanzel drew a leadoff walk to get that rally started and promptly stole second. She scored when Molly Hanslovan reached on a error. Hanslovan then swiped second before scoring on an Avery Eckels single to make it a 2-2 game.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh when Punxsy put together a two-out rally jump-started by an infield single by Ava Roken that slowed rolled up the third-base line and stayed fair.
That brought Punxsy pitcher Brinley Hallman to the plate, and she blasted a pitch to the fence in the right field that went for a walk-off triple as Roken sprinted home from first with the game-winning run.
Hallman’s shot ended what was otherwise a solid pitchers’ duel between herself and St. Marys’ Olivia Eckels — both of whom recorded double-digit strikeouts.
Hallman allowed three runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out 13 and walking just one. Eckels ended up the loser after giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. She struck out 11 and walked two.
With the win, Punxsy advanced to Sunday’s D-10 finals against the winner of today’s losers’ bracket finals matchup that has DuBois traveling to St. Marys. DuBois beat Brockway, 12-0, in an elimination game Thursday.
St. Marys, which was the visitor, jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Hanslovan led off the game with a single and later scored on a wild pitch.
However, Punxsy answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Hallman led off with an infield single and scored two batters later when Makenna Gula ripped a pitch over the third-base bag that rolled all the way to the fence for a two-run, inside-the-parh home run.
Punxsy added to its leads with a run in the second when Milaydi Hilliard reached on a one-out error and later scored on double by Roken to make it 3-1.
Eckels settled in after the double and retired 13 of the next 15 batters she faced through the end of the sixth. Brynn Hicks led off the fourth with a single but was stranded at third. Then Avary Powell led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk but was throw out trying to take second on the throw back to the pitcher.
Hallman worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the third before striking out the side in the fourth.
St. Marys finally got to Hallman in the fifth with its pair of runs that helped send the game to extra innings before Punxsy handed St. Marys a heartbreaking loss on Hallman’s two-out, walk-off triple.
Hallman and Roken each had two hits for Punxsy, while Eckels was the lone St. Marys player with a pair of hits.