ST. MARYS — The St. Marys Little League softball program has been no strangers when it comes to winning District 10 championships in recent years, and it added another banner to its collection Monday night as the Little League All-Stars bested DuBois, 8-2.
St. Marys got an all-around team effort on its home field at Benzinger Park to complete a perfect 3-0 run through the D-10 Tournament. St. Marys actually beat the other three teams in the tourney — Brookville (19-0, 4 innings), Punxsutawney (5-2) and then DuBois in the championship game.
St. Marys got another strong performance from pitcher Kara Hanslovan, who was backed by a defense that played error-free in the title game. Hanslovan went the distance, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out five and walking one.
Second base Lucy Klawuhn headlined the defense as she made a nice sliding stop on a grounder hit by Jessy Frank and threw her out from her knees to open the top of the second. Klawuhn finished with four assists and two putouts in the game.
As for the St. Marys offense, Hanslovan, Shannon Kaiser and Emily Mourer did most of the damage as they combined for six of the team’s 10 hits. Each had two hits, with Hanslovan smacking a double and driving in four runs.
It should come as no surprise 12-year-olds Hanslovan as Mourer stepped up in the title game, as the duo — along with Izzy Catalone — have now been a part of four straight D-10 championship teams dating back to their time as 9-year-olds in Minor League.
“What an offensive explosion we had today. It was awesome,” said St. Marys manager Jim Hanslovan. “We got a good pitching performance, and Kara has been strong. Overall, our defense has been sharp, and we were ready for this game. We stressed fundamentals all season, and it showed on the field today.
“This team is amazing with the depth and experience we have. Off the bench, our substitutes give us quality at-bats and do what we ask. It’s hard to make a lineup before the game because these girls can all play ball very well. And, it’s attributed to the hard work they put in at practice every day.
“We knew DuBois would bring a quality team, and they didn’t disappoint. We just came out on top today. Now, we can reap the benefits of being District 10 champions. Like i told the girls, today we finished the first leg of our journey. Next week we start a new one (at sectionals).”
While things didn’t end well for DuBois, it did get off to a strong start with a run in the top of the first against Hanslovan.
Gabby Gulvas drew a one-out walk, then stole second and went to third on a groundout before scoring on a single by Aaliyah Estrada.
That 1-0 lead was short-lived though, as St. Marys pushed two across in the bottom half of the first against DuBois starter Melia Mitskavich.
Kaiser led off the frame with a single but was quickly erased when Catalone hit into a fielder’s choice. Catalone took second on an errant throw to first on the play, then promptly stole third before scoring on a Hanslovan single to left.
Mourer then hit into a fielder’s choice that took Hanslovan off the bases, but Lydia Anderson followed with a double to left-center that plated Mourer to put St. Marys up 2-0.
Hanslovan settled in after the first and retired six of the seven batters she faced — three via strikeout — between the second and third innings.
That allowed St. Marys to seize control of the game with its bats, as it scored six runs between the second and third to take a commanding 8-0 lead.
Klawuhn got the bottom of the second started with a one-out single. Kaiser and pinch-hitter Jayssa Snelick followed with walks to load the bases.
That brought Hanslovan to the plate and she ripped a double off the fence in the left that cleared the bases. Snelick touched home plate just ahead of the the tag of catcher Estrada. Mourer then singled to bring home Hanslovan to put St. Marys up 6-1.
DuBois went to reliever Bree Weible with Anderson at the plate, and Weible recorded back-to-back outs — snagging a line drive off the bat of Rosa DePrater — to end the inning.
St. Marys added to its lead with two more runs in the third.
Pinch-hitter Lily Bouch led off the inning with a walk and wound up at third after Weible got back-to-back groundouts. However, Kaiser reached on a two-out error that allowed Bouch to score.
Kaiser then swiped second before scoring on a pair of wild pitches to make it 8-1.
DuBois got a run back in the fourth.
Estrada doubled to left to open the inning and was replaced by special pinch runner Teegan Runyon. Hanslovan then recorded back-to-back outs before Maddy Orzechowski smacked a pitch into right field.
Orzechowski just beat a throw to first by right fielder Catalone, with Runyon scoring on the single. Catalone threw out a runner on a similar play to end the bottom of the first.
Gabby Orzechowski followed with a single of her own, but Hanslovan ended the DuBois rally there when she got Runyon — who came up as a pinch-hitter after scoring — to ground out to end the inning.
DuBois managed just one base runner in the final two innings — a two-out single by Morgan Pasternak in the fifth.
Weible worked out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth after St. Marys put runners on second and third with one out, while reliever Lydia Morgan stranded runners on the corners in the fifth after Kaiser and Catalone each reached on infield single.
With the win, St. Marys advances to the Section 1 Tournament, which begins July 3 in Union City.