ST. MARYS — The St. Marys Junior League All-Star softball team captured the District 10 championship Thursday night with a hard fought 4-3 victory against DuBois under the lights at Benzinger Park.
St. Marys came in the undefeated team, having already bested DuBois in the winners’ bracket finals 3-0 on Sunday at Heindl Field. This time around, the outcome went down to the final pitch as DuBois staged a seventh-inning rally after twice falling behind by two runs.
St. Marys, the visiting team, led 2-0 after the top of the fourth, only to see DuBois score twice in the bottom of the fourth knot the score 2-2. However, St. Marys answered right back with a pair of unearned runs in the fifth against DuBois starter Allie Snyder to regain the lead the lead at 4-2.
DuBois didn’t go silently from there though, as they made St. Marys starter Kendall Young and her defense work until the very last out in the seventh.
Trailing by two runs, DuBois’ Sarah Henninger promptly cut that deficit in half when she led of the bottom of the seventh with an inside-the-park home run. St. Marys’ right fielder charged in on the line drive and it went over her head and rolled all the way to the fence.
Young then got a foul out before a near identical play happened. This time it was Lauren Walker who hit a liner to center. The ball tipped off the top of center fielder’s glove as she hustled in an went to the fence.
Young dug deep from there though, getting Snyder to foul out to the catcher and Rachel Radaker to ground out to second to strand Walker at third with the game-tying run.
Walker was 3-for-3 in the loss, while Henninger was 2-for-4. They combined for five of DuBois’ eight hits.
With the victory, St. Marys Advances to the Section 1 Tournament in Saegertown beginning July 4.
Young, who tossed a three-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts in the teams’ first meeting, allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits Thursday night. She struck out 12 and walked two.
Snyder wound up the hard-luck loser as she gave up four runs, all earned, on nine hits. She struck out four and walked none.
“DuBois was a very good team and is very well-coached and disciplined,” said St. Marys manager Bob Young. “They really played their hearts out and deserve recognition.
“Our team really played their hearts out as well. Kendall pitched another great game, and the whole team played great. I thought our hitting was better and we were able to do a little small ball which lead to some runs.
“Our defence was tough when it counted, and we were able to limit the damage when they did hit the ball. It was an all around team effort.
“I want to thank my coaches, Nick Krug and Jim Wolf, for their help and hard work. St Marys has really become a force within our district, section and even state. I’m really proud to be part of such a great organization.”
St. Marys jumped on Snyder and DuBois for an unearned run in the top of the first.
Morgan Wolf reached on an error to lead off the game, ending up at second on a ball that was dropped in the left field. Olivia Eckels bunted Wolf to thid before she raced home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0.
Joey Forster then led off the top of the second with the game’s first hit, but she was quickly erased when Janelle Krug hit into a fielder’s choice. Henninger then threw out Jrug trying to steal second — one of three caught stealings by the DuBois catcher in the game.
Young used the strikeout to work out of trouble in both the second and third innings — stranding two runners in each inning to keep it a 1-0 game. DuBois’ defense helped Snyder out in the top of the third when third baseman Radaker snagge a line drive off the bat of Eckels and doubled-off Wolf, who walked, at second to end the inning.
St. Marys found the scoreboard again in the fourth.
Young led off with a single to center, but Caitlyn Vollmer hit into a fielder’s choice that took Young off the bases. Tessa Fledderman then put down a perfect bunt single, and things got better for St. Marys went a late throw to first found its way down the right-field line.
Vollmer hustled all the way around the bases to score to put St. Marys up 2-0. Krug then reached on another error before DuBois cut down Fledderman at home on a double-steal attempt. Henninger threw the ball short to shortstop Jaden Swatsworth, who fired back to the plate to Henninger who tagged out Fledderman. Snyder then recorded a strikeout to end the inning.
DuBois wasted little time getting back into the game with its two-run bottom of the fourth.
Chelsea Busatto led off the inning with a single to left and was bunted to second by Janee Waxler. A bunt single by Swatsworth put runners on the corners for Bella Gregory, who smacked a single to right to plate Busatto.
Swatsworth hustled around to third on the hit, then scored on a passed ball to even things at 2-2.
St. Marys didn’t hang their head though and put together a rally in the top of the fifth to regain the lead.
Ava Buzard led off the inning with a bunt single, and Emma Sorg followed with a bunt of her own. The throw to first was mishandled, putting runners at second and third with no outs.
Snyder cutdown Buzard at the plate for the first out when she fielded a ball put in play by Wolf. However, a groundout by Eckels then plated Sorg, while a single by Young scored Wolf to put St. Marys up two at 4-2. Young was 2-for-3 in the win, while Forster was 2-for-2 for St. Marys.
That inning set the stage for the dramatic finish that saw St. Marys hold to capture the second D-10 banner for its Little League this summer.
The Little League All-Stars (11-12 year-olds) beat DuBois, 8-2, for the district title in that age group on Monday.