ST. MARYS — The St. Marys Minor League All-Star softball team entered Monday’s District 10 championship game against Punxsy as the undefeated team, but it appeared an “if necessary” title contest was on the horizon with Punxsy leading 13-2 entering the bottom of the fifth.
However, that’s when St. Marys staged a comeback for the ages and scored 13 runs in the bottom of the fifth — coupling six hits with six Punxsy errors — to roar back for the 15-13 victory to claim the D-10 title.
St. Marys’ huge rally came on the heels of Punxsy scoring seven times in the top of the fifth to take what seemed to be a commanding 13-2 lead.
After her team got her the lead, St. marys pitcher Rylee Nicklas — who went the distance in the circle — worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the top of the sixth to finish off the improbable victory.
“This was a pretty amazing finish by these girls,” said St. Marys manager Dominic Surra. “Much was not going our way early in the game, and we dug a big hole. The girls came out and had a really gutsy effort in the fifth inning to get us the lead.”
St. Marys jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Lucy Klawuhn reached on a one-out error and later scored when Gianna Surra also reached on an error.
Punxsy countered with two runs in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead, but St. Marys evened the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the third. Klawuhn reached safely on a two-out error and later scored on an error in the outfield following a single by Surra.
Any momentum St. Marys built with the run was quickly taken away, as Punxsy plated four runs in the fourth and seventh more in the fifth to seize control of the game and put the 10-run mercy into play at 13-2.
Brooke Farmery did a lot of that damage for Punxsy, as she blasted a two-run triple in the fourth and added a two-run single in the fifth. She was 2-for-4 with the five RBIs and two runs scored on the day.
St. Marys wasn’t to be denied though and stormed back in the bottom of the fifth — a half inning in which St. Marys sent 18 batters to the plate.
Jordan Lasko, Molly Hanslovan and Surra each smacked two-run singles in the rally. Klawuhn also had a RBI single, while Nicklas ripped a run-scoring double. Avery Eckels added a sacrifice fly.
“We have some good hitters on this team, but we started slow and finally hit our stride in the fifth,” said Dominic Surra. “This type of finish is what makes athletics great. Probably one of the most improbable finishes you could have, and our girls pulled it off.
“I am really proud of this group. We almost did not have enough girls for a team this year,. These girls work their tail off every day and have improved so much since this began, and this is a well deserved championship.”
Lasko finished the game 2-for-3 with the two RBIs and a run scored, while Surra was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs.
St. Marys now has a week off to rest up before heading to the Section 1 Tournament in Cochranton next week. St. Marys opens sectional play next Wednesday (July 12) against the District 3 representative. The winner of that game plays again at 6 p.m. that day against the District 1 representative.