COCHRANTON — What a difference a day can make.
After narrowly beating Cochranton, 7-6, Saturday at the Section 1 Tournament, the St. Marys Junior League All-Star softball squad left no doubt who the best team was in the tourney as they dominated the hosts, 17-0, in five innings Sunday afternoon at Cochranton High School.
Saturday’s matchup, which actually began Friday before it was halted due to severe weather, was one of two tight victories for St. Marys to open the tourney. St. Marys also beat Corry, 9-5, in Friday’s opening game — scoring four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead for good.
Cochranton, which knocked off Corry 8-7 Saturday evening in the losers’ game, had no answers for St. Marys starter Kendall Young a day after pounding out 10 hits and scoring five runs against the righty Saturday in the one-run loss.
Young was in complete control Sunday, tossing a one-hit shutout with five strikeouts as she faced just two over the minimum for five innings. She allowed a two-out single to Dana Jackson in the second, while Lili Douglas reached on a one-our error in the third.
Douglas was the lone Cochranton player to reach to second base in the game and was stranded there as Young retired the final eight batters she faced.
Young was backed by another explosive day at the plate for the St. Marys offense, which racked up 17 hits for the second straight game against Cochranton. The squad 11 hits in the win against Corry.
St. Marys got all the runs it needed one swing of the bat in the top of the first when Julia Jones launched a three-run home run off a car parked beyond the left-field fence. That blast, coupled with a two-run shot to center by Kara Hanslovan in the second, seemed to take all the life out of Cochranton with Young dealing in the circle.
Hanslovan enjoyed another monster day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs and four runs scored. She finished a double shy of cycle. Young was 3-for-4 with a RBI, while Olivia Eckels went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a RBI.
Hanslovan finished an incredible 9-for-10 in the three-game event with five RBIs and five runs scored.
“Yesterday (Saturday) was certainly a different game because we played two innings the first day (Friday) and Emily (Mourer) hit a homer to put us up, but it did seemed like we kiond of started over again (on Saturday),” said St. Marys manager Bob Young. “And, they (Cochranton) were hitting the ball.
“Today (Sunday), Kendall was definitely on and was hitting her spots. After seeing where their girls were setting up in the box (in 1st meeting), we came in with a game plan and it worked to perfection. Kendall threw really well.
“And, our girls just hit. I’ve always said, top to bottom we’re just solid and you could see that today. Going up early definitely set the tone. I knew we were going to hit, and it was just a matter of controlling them (Cochranton), and we did that.”
St. Marys came out firing on all cylinders Sunday.
Shannon Kaiser led off the game with a shot to center that was run down by Kaylin Rose. Her nice play only momentarily slowed down St. Marys as Young and Hanslovan each singled ahead of Jones’ three-run blast.
After a groundout, Ava Buzard kept the inning going with a single of her own, then beat a throw to second on a fielder’s choice to extend the inning. Cochranton starter Taytum Jackson finally got out of the inning when Jianna Gerg lined out to third.
Young quickly retired Cochranton in order in the bottom of the first, while Jackson got two fast out to start the second. However, Young ripped her second single of the game to center before Hanslovan deposited a Jackson pitch over the fence in center to make it 5-0.
Cochranton changed pitchers in the third, going to Devyn Sokol, and the lefty kept St. Marys off the scoreboard in the third. She wasn’t so fortunate after that, as St. Marys exploded for seven runs in the fourth while adding five more in the fifth to put the mercy into play.
St. Marys used four hits and two walks to capitalize on a trio of Cochranton errors in the fourth.
Lydia Anderson led off the inning with an infield single and later scored when Young reached on a a throwing error on a bunt. Kaiser, who walked, also scored on the error, which allowed Young to race around to third. Hanslovan followed with a triple to right to plate Young and came home on a groundout by Jones.
Buzard kept the inning going with a two-out single, while Eckels walked. Both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch before Rosa DePrater ripped a two-run single to right field. The ball got past the outfielder, sending DePrater around the bases.
A late throw to third was off the mark, with that second error on the play allowing DePrater to sprint home to cap the inning and put St. Marys up 12-0.
St. Marys finished off the victory with a five-run top of the fifth that featured six hits.
Emily Mourer had a two-run single in the frame, while Eckels brought in a run with her second double of the game. Buzard also scored a run on a groundout, while Gerg collected an RBI on an infield single that set the eventual final score.
Next up for St. Marys is a trip to Berwick, where it looks to defend its Pennsylvania Junior League State title. And, the squad certainly has enough state tourney experience to know what needs done to make a return to Eastern Regionals.
Hanslovan and Mourer, both 13-year olds, are making their fifth straight trip to states since beginning All-Star play as 9-year olds.
Another five players — 14-year olds Young, Eckels, Emma Sorg and Lindsey Reiter and 13-year olds Gerg and Alexander — will be making their fourth appearance at a state tournament during that same stretch.
“We’re excited about going back to states,” said Young. “The girls have been working really hard, as have the coaches, and it shows. I want to thank all those guys — Jim Hanslovan, Josh Buzard, Mike Anderson, Scott Mourer and Ed Kaiser — for all the hard work they put in too.
“This is step No. 2. Now we head to states and see what happens. Hopefully, we can keep the run going.”
St. Marys opens state play Thursday.