ST. MARYS — Wednesday’s District 9 Class A semifinal between the Clarion and Coudersport softball teams had the making of a low-scoring pitcher’s dual between the two teams.
Then after three innings, a rain delay that lasted nearly an hour and a half held up play at St. Marys Area High School, and both teams came out swinging after the delay.
In the end, it was the Lady Falcons that got a few more hits than the Lady Cats as Coudersport advanced to today’s championship game with a 4-2 win.
“I don’t think (the rain delay) affected us at all, probably the same as it did their team,” said Clarion coach Dan Shofestall. “You always worry about how you come back out, but we were pretty loose during the break. I thought we battled the whole game, but I don’t think it bothered either team a whole lot.”
With the loss, Clarion will play Elk County Catholic this afternoon in Brockway for the third-place game and a berth in the PIAA Class A Tournament next week.
Coudersport will play DuBois Central Catholic this afternoon in the championship, and both teams will be in the PIAA Tournament regardless of the outcome.
After a 0-0 tie before the rain delay through three innings, Coudersport got on the board in the bottom of the fourth.
Clarion pitcher Sadie Rudesyle hit Shaelyn Black in the foot to lead off the frame, but ended up retiring her on the basepaths on a 6-3 double play as Black was doubled off on a throw from shortstop Alexis Constantino.
Madison Smith singled up the middle with two outs before Stephanie Fry smacked a line-drive double to right field, which scored Claudia Miller, who was courtesy running for Smith.
Annie Chambers also singled to put runners at the corners, but Rudesyle got out of the frame with a groundout to escape further damage.
Clarion responded with a run of their own in the top of the fifth. Kaitlyn Constantino singled to center field to open the inning before Sydney Kiser came through with a triple to right-center. The throw home was too high for the Coudersport catcher as Constantino scored.
Mackenzie DiTullio tried to get Kiser home on a suicide squeeze, but Smith, the Lady Falcon pitcher, flipped home to get Kiser out at the plate to keep the game tied.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Chelsey Streich singled before Clarion had a big loss due to injury.
Lady Cats catcher Cora Zerfoss took a foul tip off her mask and said she was dizzy. After some discussion with the umpires and the Clarion trainer, Zerfoss was removed from the game.
“We hope she’ll be alright for tomorrow’s game,” said Shofestall. “Injuries are part of the game. It happens. It’s something we have to work through and it’s something you learn from. Everything has a reason. Everything has a purpose. We’ll fight on tomorrow.”
Liz Saver came in from right field to catch Rudesyle.
“Liz has caught her before in some innings this year,” Shofestall said. “It’s not an easy job for a young catcher like that to come in, but I thought she did well being thrown into that in a big game like this. She battled back there.”
On the very next pitch after the injury to Zerfoss, Macy Gleason unloaded for a two-run homer to give the Lady Falcons a 3-1 lead.
After a hard groundball out back to Rudesyle, EmmaLee Easton singled up the middle and moved up a base each on a pair of wild pitches. Smith came through with an RBI single to give Coudersport a 4-1 lead.
Smith allowed one more run in the top of the sixth before escaping a big inning for the second time. Clarion’s Carly Best doubled before Alexis Constantino’s base hit put runners at the corners with no outs.
Maya Thornton hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Best.
Rudesyle drew a one-out walk to put runners at first and second, but Smith got out of the jam with a strikeout looking and a popout.
Black came on in relief of Smith in the top of the seventh and set the Lady Cats down in order for the save.
“That’s a good team over there,” said Shofestall. “You have to give them credit. Their pitcher did a nice job with locations. She kept us off-balanced, especially early in the game. She did a nice job and their defense played excellent.”
Baserunners came at a minimum in the first three innings before the rain delay. Clarion had a two-out walk from Alexis Constantino in the first, and a two-out double from Kizer in the second.
Coudersport had a leadoff single from Black in the second, a two-out base hit from Joplin Osgood in the third and a walk from Streich after the Osgood hit.
Kiser was 2-for-3 with the triple and double to lead the Lady Cats.
“Sydney has gotten better throughout the year, mainly because of her work ethic and her desire to get better,” said Shofestall. “I can’t say enough about how she’s played down the stretch. She’s been a big part of our success.”
Rudesyle allowed four earned runs on nine hits in her six innings in the circle. She walked one and struck out three.
The consolation game for Clarion against Elk County Catholic will be at 4 p.m. at Brockway High School. The Lady Crusaders lost to DCC, 7-4, on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow’s game will show us what kind of team we really have,” said Shofestall. “If we’re the team we think we are and we come out and play well, that’s what we think we are. I look for us to come out and play really hard tomorrow and play inspired and ready to go against a good Elk County team.”
The championship game between Coudersport and DCC will be at St. Marys Area High School at 4 p.m. this afternoon.