BROCKWAY — A flame of hope flickered briefly for the Clarion High School softball team during the District 9 Class A softball consolation game before it was blown out like just another candle on a toddler’s birthday cake.
The gust that extinguished it came courtesy of Elk County Catholic as it rebounded from an early deficit to score nine unanswered runs on the way to a 12-2, 6-inning victory over Clarion Thursday.
The Lady Crusaders pounded out 14 hits, including seven for extra bases, against a pair of Clarion pitchers in the game.
The win came just a day after ECC fell to DuBois Central Catholic, the now two-time defending district champion, in the semifinals.
It appeared that perhaps the effects of that loss was still lingering with the Lady Crusaders after they allowed Clarion to jump on top 1-0 after the first inning.
However, things changed in the second as they scored four runs on five hits to take the lead and never looked back.
“The girls came in with some determination,” ECC head coach Digger O’Dell said. “They went through the batting order the first time and saw what (Clarion pitcher Sadie Rudesyle) had and they just started teeing up on it. They hit the ball hard all day long.”
Half of the Lady Crusaders’ hits went for extra bases as Jenna Weisner doubled twice along with Maggie Dinsmore, Emily Evers and Josie Smith, while Brandi Clyde and Sady VanAlstine both tripled.
“There were at least four shots that, if we were playing on a 200-foot field, would have had a chance of getting out,” O’Dell said. “The girls just hit the ball well.”
Five different ECC players finished with two hits as Weisner, Clyde, Evers, Dinsmore and Michelle Gerber all finished with two.
Clyde also had three RBIs while Gerber added two.
In addition to her performance at the plate, Gerber also notched the complete-game victory as she allowed two runs, both earned, on six hits while walking none and striking out two.
Alexis Constantino led Clarion at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.
Rudesyle suffered the loss, allowing nine runs, eight earned, on 11 hits while walking one and striking out one in four innings of work.
However, Rudesyle and her teammates were the ones to get on the board first in the consolation game as Clarion put up a run in the top of the first.
Leadoff hitter Cora Zerfoss was hit with a pitch to open the game before stealing second.
With one out, Constantino then delivered a drive to the gap in left-center field for an RBI double to give the Lady Bobcats a 1-0 lead.
While Rudesyle got ECC in order to open the game, things got out of hand quickly in the second as the Lady Crusaders crossed the plate five times.
Dinsmore opened the inning with a leadoff double before Emily Wolf came in to run.
Smith then delivered another double, but Wolf hung near the bag at second until the ball hit the ground and could only reach as far as third to put two runners in scoring position.
An RBI single by Gerber tied the game while a one-out sacrifice fly by VanAlstine brought home another and a throwing error on the play added another for a 3-1 ECC advantage.
A walk, a Jenna Weisner double, an error and an RBI single by Clyde accounted for two more runs to open up a 5-1 lead.
Gerber started to hit her stride on the mound after that while the Lady Crusaders’ bats added four more in the bottom of the fourth to basically put the game away.
Triples by VanAlstine and Clyde along with doubles from Jenna Weisner and Evers accounted for the big hits in the inning as ECC went up 9-1.
Clarion scored its final run in the top of the sixth as Alexis Constantino singled and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Rudesyle to make it 9-2.
Evers, Smith and Gerber then crossed the plate for ECC in the bottom of the inning to end the game early.
ECC will now play Meyersdale, the District 5 champion, on Monday at a site and time to be determined.