DuBOIS — Coaches often tell their players that the playoffs bring with it a clean slate, and that nothing before that matters.
The DuBois softball team, coming off an up-and-down regular season that saw it finish with a 10-10 record, took that philosophy to heart Monday in its postseason opener against winless Hollidaysburg.
All the Lady Beavers did was pound out 14 hits and score three or more runs in every inning on their way to a 19-4, 4-inning mercy rule victory over the Lady Tigers in a District 6-9 5A semifinal game at the Highland Street Softball Complex.
Ten Lady Beavers collected hits and RBIs in the victory, with the duo of Rachel Gildersleeve and Sarah Snyder leading the way. Gildersleeve went 2-for-2 with a double and five RBIs — all coming in her first two at-bats — while Snyder was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Marissa Torretti also finished 2-for-2 with the game-ending RBI and two runs scored for the Lady Beavers.
Snyder was the beneficiary of all that offense, as the junior lefty settled in after a rocky first inning that saw the Lady Tigers score three runs. Snyder went the distance, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits while striking out two, walking one and hitting one.
“I think maybe there was some expectations in our girls’ minds about how this game would go,” said DuBois coach Rick McClelland. “So, it was a little sloppy at first. But, they did a good job of coming back in here and evening it up there in that first inning, then stepping on the gas pedal from there.
“This is the time of the year where when you don’t play well, you go home. So, we need to make sure we’re taking advantage of every opportunity we have at the plate. And, the girls did a good job coming out attacking the ball at the plate today.
“Sarah did a nice job settling down (after the 1st inning) and started to hit her spots and working the count in her favor — and that makes a big difference.”
All well as things ended for DuBois, it didn’t start out that way, as for the second straight home meeting with Hollidaysburg, the Lady Tigers (0-17) jumped out to a quick lead.
Hollidaysburg scored four times in the first back on May 9 before DuBois battled back for a 10-4 victory. Monday, the Lady Tigers pushed three runs across in the top of the first.
With one out, Kaitlyn Cappella drew a walk, while Morgan Seiler was hit by a pitch. Jordynn Robertson then flew out to shallow right field for the second out.
Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a single to right by Emily Baker. Kelly Marchi followed with a triple to right-center to chase home Baker to make it 3-0. Marchi was 2-for-2 on the day.
DuBois quickly answered back in the bottom half of the inning.
The Lady Beavers loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Snyder and Kylee Bundy and a walk by Laura Fatula. That brought Gildersleeve to the plate, the Lady Beaver senior ripped a double to deep left-center field to clear the bases to even the score at 3-3.
Gildersleeve was thrown out trying to stretch her double into a triple, and Lady Tigers starter Oakley Fox-Kern got out of the inning from there the score still tied.
Hollidaysburg grabbed the lead back in the second when Jenna Heim hit a leadoff single to left and later scored on a two-out error to put the Lady Tigers up 4-3.
That lead was short-lived though, as DuBois exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the second to seize control of the game.
Autumn Shaffer and Danessa Alison reached on back-to-back errors to open the inning, miscues that opened the flood gates for the Lady Beavers. DuBois proceeded to rack up five hits in the innings to capitalize on Hollidaysburg’s mistakes.
Snyder, Laura Fatula and Gildersleeve each ripped two-run singles in the inning to give DuBois a 9-4 lead. Allison capped the outburst with a two-run single of her own in her second at-bat of the inning to put DuBois up 11-4 after two innings.
Snyder settled in from there, as Hollidaysburg managed just two runners over the final two innings. Marchi singled with one on the third but was stranded at second. Abby Albright singled to lead off the fourth, but pinch-runner Trinity Molliver was eventually left standing at third.
With Snyder holding the Lady Tigers in check over the final two innings, DuBois’ offense went to work to finish off the mercy-rule victory with three runs in the third and five more in the fourth.
Bundy led off the third with a walk, while Gildersleeve walked with one out to put runners on the corners. Pinch-hitter Katie Zameroski then ripped an infield single off the shin of reliever Kaitlyn Cappella that scored Bundy.
Kacie Means followed with a walk to load the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Gabby Henrichs then grounded into fielder’s choice that scored Gildersleeve, while courtesy runner Abby Lecker later scored on an error to make it 14-4 after three innings.
The Lady Beavers then put the game away in the fourth.
DuBois loaded the bases with one out as Torretti walked, Snyder singled and Fatula walked. Pinch-hitter Lexi Ray then dropped a single into center to score Torretti, while a single by Maddie Smith brought home Snyder and Fatula.
Means made it 18-4 with a RBI single that plated Smith. Shaffer then walked, while Allison was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That brought Torretti to the plate for the second time in the inning, and the senior smacked a walk-off single to right to score courtesy runner Lecker with the game-ending run.
With the victory, DuBois advances to play Central Mountain in the District 6-9 finals Wednesday at Penn State’s Beard Field. Game time is set for noon. The winner of that game will play the District 10 champ for a berth in the state playoffs.
DuBois beat Central Mountain earlier this season, 6-1, at the Lady Wildcats tournament, but McClelland was quick to point out his team can’t think too much about that contest.
“That first game means nothing,” he said. “We just need to focus on what we do and do it well, and not worry about who we’re playing and all that stuff. We need to take care of what we need to take care of.
“There’s a golden opportunity in front of us, and we just need to step out and take it.”