DuBOIS — The DuBois Central Catholic softball team needed a four-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth inning to rally past A-C Valley, 4-1, in last year’s District 9 Class A semifinals, setting the stage for its run to the state semifinals.
No such rally was needed Tuesday when the teams met again in the postseason — this time in a D-9 quarterfinal contest at DuBois Central Catholic. The top-seeded Lady Cardinals (19-1) made quick work of the Lady Falcons this time around, scoring 12 runs in the first three innings en route to a 12-1, 5-inning mercy-rule victory.
And, the Lady Cardinals used a balanced offensive attack — seven different players had a hit — spearheaded by the senior trio of Macey Hanes, Jordy Frank and Riley Assalone at the top of the order.
Hanes, DCC’s table-setter, did just that with a 3-for-3 day that saw her score three times and also knock in a run. Frank continued her late-season tear, going 2-for-2 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Assalone also enjoyed a 2-for-2 day, belting two doubles while driving in three runs and scoring twice. Shayleigh Gulvas also had two hits for DCC.
Assalone was the beneficiary of all that offense, as she tossed a complete-game three-hitter. She allowed just one earned run while striking out nine and walking two in five innings of work.
A-C Valley scored its lone run, which was earned, in the third after Emily Wetzel went first-to-third on a sacrifice bunt. Central Catholic then fell asleep a little bit and Wetzel raced home as Assalone was walking back to the circle with the ball. Wetzel slid in safely just ahead of Frank’s tag.
Outside of that play, DCC’s infield made a handful of above average plays to do its part in shutting down the Lady Falcons’ offense.
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well and running the bases very aggressively,” said DCC coach George Heigel. “The front-end of our lineup is producing some runs. When we get Macey (Hanes), our No. 1 batter on, things just seem to go from there.
“Their pitchers threw strikes and had us off balance a little bit, but we came around and started scoring some runs and had a couple key hits today. That’s a pretty nice eighth-place seed team, though.”
A-C Valley got a two-out single from Cami McAnany in the top of the first, with McAnany taking second on the throw back into the infield. Assalone stranded the Lady Falcon there as she struck out Kylee Eaton to end the ininng.
The Lady Cardinals then grabbed the lead with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom half of the first.
Hanes led off the game with a bunt single and hustled around to third when a late throw went down the right-field line. She scored on the play on an errant throw back into the infield.
Frank followed with a walk. She promptly stole second and went to third when the throw went into center field. Frank scored a batter later on a line-drive, sacrifice fly to left by Assalone to put DCC up 2-0.
Central the broke the game wide open with a seven-run bottom of the second, using six hits to capitalize on two more A-C Valley errors.
Alyssa Bittner got things started with a one-out single to right-center. Pinch-runner Jordy Kosko then stole second before Maia Cogley reached on an error and Sabrina Spencer walked to load the bases.
That turned the lineup over for Hanes, who smacked a single to left that scored Kosko. Cogley also raced home on a lazy throw into second by the Lady Falcons.
Frank then ripped a pitch over the bag at third that rolled into the left-field corner for a triple that cored both Spencer and Hanes to give DCC a 6-0 lead. Frank scored shortly after on a passed ball.
Assalone kept the inning going with a double to left-center before Wruble reached on an error. The duo pulled off a double steal, with Assalone scoring on the play. Gulvas followed with a single to center, but Wruble was thrown out trying to score.
Libby Maurer then capped the inning with a single that plated Gulvas to make it 9-0 after two innings.
A-C Valley countered with its run in the third, only to see DCC push three more runs of its own across in the bottom of the third to put the 10-run mercy rule into play.
Spencer jump-started the frame with a one-out single to left. Hanes followed with her second bunt single of the game before Frank hit a deep fly ball to center. A-C Valley’s center fielder pulled up as she neared the fence and the ball dropped in for a long-single that loaded the bases.
Assalone stepped in and ripped her second double of the game, scoring Spencer and Hanes. Frank also tried to score but was thrown out at home on what DCC felt was the second time in the game that Lady Falcons’ catcher was blocking the plate before having the ball.
Assalone scored a couple pitches later when she swiped home for the second time to make it a 12-1 game. A-C Valley tried to pick off Assalone at third but she took off for the plate, and the throw back home hit the Lady Cardinal in the helmet.
Assalone and her defense did the rest from there to finish off the mercy-rule victory.
“Riley hit her spots inside and out today, and she’s real effect when she’s on the black of the plate like she was today,” said Heigel. “She also had quite a few strikeouts with her rise ball.
“We had some goofy thing happen at home plate there today, so we left some runs on the field. But, other than that I can’t find anything negative today. Defensively, we played well and our infielders made a couple nice plays.
“Overall, I’m happy with that start (to playoffs).”
The win puts DCC in next week’s D-9 semifinals, where it awaits the winner of today’s quarterfinal matchup pitting fifth-seeded Smethport against fourth-seeded Elk County Catholic.