FAIRCHANCE — After practicing most of the summer, the DuBois 11-year-old All-Star softball team put together a strong run in Fairchance, going 2-2 to capture a runner-up finish in the state tournament.
DuBois, which dropped into the losers’ bracket with a lopsided 18-8, 6-inning loss to Williamsport Sunday, bounced back in a big way Monday to score a wild 20-12 victory over Pittston Area to reach the state finals.
DuBois, which was missing three players for the final day, played a strong all-around game while pounding out 18 hits in a back-and-forth battle with Pittston. The win over the Section 5 representative set up a rematch with Williamsport for the state championship.
However, Williamsport again proved to be too much for DuBois to handle, as the Section 3 squad used a huge inning for the second time in as many meetings to put the game away.
Williamsport posted a 12-run second inning Sunday to be itself on the verge of a mercy-rule victory before DuBois fought back to force the game to go the distance in an 18-8 loss.
On Monday, DuBois trailed by a slim 3-1 margin going into the top of the fourth before the flood gates opened for Williamsport. When the dust settled, Williamsport had pushed 15 runs across in the inning to seal the state championship with an 18-1, 4-inning victory.
DuBois’ runner-up finish marked the second year in a row a team from DuBois was second at the state tournament in Fairchance.
“That’s a real good team,” said DuBois manager Tom Frank of Williamsport. “They hit the ball well, fielded the ball well and are just an all-around good team. We played a good game other than one inning again, but Williamsport deserves it. I think if they could keep going (11-year-old season ends at states), they would keep going through regionals.
“But, I’m real happy with our girls. We fought, and we played hard. We didn’t play a whole lot of games, but we had fun and I’m very proud of them, I think they all had a good time, and that’s what it’s all about. Coming in second and getting a medal — they’re very happy with that.”
While things didn’t end quite as DuBois had hoped, the Section 1 representative couldn’t have asked for a better performance in Monday’s opener.
DuBois and Pittston traded big innings to open the game, with things being tied 8-8 after two innings. DuBois regained the lead with a three-run top of the third before putting the game away with eight runs over the final two innings.
The top of the order led the way for DuBois, as the trio of Melia Mitskavich, Bree Weible and Aaliyah Estrada combined to go 13-for-15 with 12 RBIs in the victory.
Mitskavich and Estrada both finished 4-for-5 with a home run, five RBIs and four runs scored. Mitskavich also had a double. Weible was 5-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and five runs scored.
Teammate Abbey Miller added some punch at the bottom of the lineup, as she went 3-for-4 with a RBIs and two runs scored.
DuBois jumped on Pittston starter Olivia Walter for five runs in the top of the first Monday.
Mitskavich led off the game with a single and went to second on an error in the outfield. Weible followed with a double to score Mitskavich, while Weible came home on an Estrada single to left.
Estrada then stole second and went to third on a groundout before scoring when Sidney Beers reached on an error. Beers later crossed home on a groundout by Kiki Foster, while Teegan Runyon, who walked, scored the fifth run of the inning on a Miller single to center.
DuBois’ lead was short-lived though, as Pittston answered right back with six runs in the bottom half of the first. Maura Mihalka and Abigail Nowakowski each had RBI singles in the rally, while Katie Wywoda had the big hit — a two run double.
The momentum quickly shifted back to DuBois in the second, as it regained the lead with a trio of runs.
Weible got things started with a one-out, infield single. She stole second and raced home from there when Estrada ripped a single to left. Jessy Frank was then hit by a pitch before she and Estrada pulled off a double steal.
After Beers lined out to first, Estrada and Frank both scored to make it 8-6 when Runyon reached on a two-out error.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the bottom of the second, as Pittston tied the game on a two-run double by Natalya Soto with one out. DuBois’ defense stopped Pittston’s rally there though, as Estrada gunned down Soto trying to steal third before Runyon caught a soft liner at third to end the inning.
DuBois carried that momentum into the dugout with it and took the lead for good with four runs in the third.
Miller and Lydia Morgan opened the third with back-to-back singles, and both sprinted home when Mitskavich blasted a three-run, inside-the-park homer to left field. Weible kept the inning going with her second double of the game and later came home on a groundout by Frank to give DuBois a 12-8 advantage.
DuBois starter Mitskavich kept Pittston off the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, but Pittston got two runs back in the fourth to pull within 12-10.
That’s as close as Pittston got though, as DuBois plated three runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth to win.
Mitskavich led off the fifth with an infield single and promptly stole second. Weible followed with a single of her own, and Mitskavich scored when the ball was misplayed by the left fielder. Weible took second on that error and ended up at third on a second throwing error on the play.
Estrada then hustled out an infield hit that plated Weible, while Estrada scored later in the inning when Beers reached on another Pittston error.
Pittston countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, as bases-loaded walks by Samantha Thomas and Soto made it a 15-12 game.
DuBois wasn’t finished scoring though, as put away the game with a five-run top of the sixth.
MIller led off the sixth with a single to right, while Lydia Morgan drew a walk. The runners moved up a base on a wild pitch, and both scored on a double to center by Mitskavich.
A single by Weible plated Mitskavich before Weible was chased home on Estrada’s inside-the-park home run to center that gave DuBois a 20-12 lead.
Mitskavich then went out and retired Pittston in order — her first 1-2-3 inning of the game — to send her team to the state finals. She ended the game in style by striking out Emma Rinaldi looking.
The long game in the heat of the afternoon didn’t seem to phase DuBois early on in the championship game, as it trailed just 3-1 after three innings.
Williamsport opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first on an odd play.
Natayah Abdul Hakim led off the game with a triple down the left-field line, but Mitskavich — who returned to the circle for the title game — struck out Kendall McAnelly.
Aubri Blair then hit a foul popup near the first base dugout. DuBois’ Frank made a nice catch against the fence but had to run out around the opening of the dugout with how the field is layed out. That gave the speedy Abdul Hakim enough time to score on what became a sacrifice flyout to first.
Williamsport took that 1-0 lead into the third when it tacked on two more runs.
With two outs, Blair singled and Ally Chilson doubled down the left-field line. Both runners scored on the play when the ball got past DuBois’ left fielder to make it 3-0.
DuBois got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third when Mitskavich doubled with one out and scored on a single by Weible.
Willamsport then put the state title away with its 15-run top of the fourth. The proverbial “snowball effect” took place in the inning, as Williamsport coupled nine hits with five DuBois errors.
Despite the huge inning, DuBois didn’t go quietly in the bottom of the fourth.
Beers led off the inning with a single to left, while Kayley Risser later beat out an infield single. However, Williamsport starter Abby Robertson recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
Robertson tossed a five-hitter, allowing just the one earned run while striking out seven and walking one. DuBois’ only other hit in the final was a two-out double by Estrada in the first inning.