FLEETVILLE — Win and advance any way possible.
That’s the goal of every team, particularly when they fall into the losers’ bracket of a double-elimination tournament.
And, that’s just what the St. Marys Minor League All-Star softball team did Thursday, outlasting Indiana, 4-3, in eight innings to stay alive at the Pennsylvania State Championship.
St. Marys mustered just two hits — and struck out 18 times against Indiana starter Jayla Peterson — but found a way to score three runs on passed balls and another on an error to live to fight another day in Fleetville.
The Section 1 champs have a rematch with Delaware Valley today, a team St. Marys beat 5-2 in its opening game on Tuesday. The winner of that contest battles back Mountain in the losers’ bracket finals on Saturday.
South Williamsport, which beat Back Mountain 3-0 Thursday, finds itself in the driver’s seat as the lone undefeated team waiting to play in the state title game on Sunday.
St. Marys jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
Molly Hanslovan drew a leadoff walk, then took second on a wild pitch and third on a passed ball before eventually coming home on another passed ball.
Indiana got that run back in the bottom against starter Avery Eckels. Paige Fisanich reached on a one-out error and later scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 1-1.
Both teams scored runs again in the second.
In the top half, St. Marys’ bailey Thorwart led off with a walk, then quickly stole second. She took third on a passed ball and scored when Maddie Lanzel reached on a two-out error.
Indiana got that run right back when Laila Clifford drew a leadoff walk and special-pinch runner Peyton Scott later scored on a passed ball.
Indiana then took its first lead of the day (3-2) in the bottom of the fifth when Clifford singled home Hannah Ianarelli, who started a two-out rally with a walk.
Down to its final at-bat, St. Marys pulled even in the sixth when Thorwart drew a leadoff walk, then stole second and third before coming home on yet another passed ball.
Eckels then retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth to send the game to extra innings.
St. Marys recorded its first hit of the game in the seventh when Hanslovan smacked a single. She promptly stole second and went to third on a groundout. She was tagged out at home latter in the inning for the final out trying to score the go-ahead run.
Indiana carried that momentum into the bottom of the seventh and put its first two hitters on base on a walk and single. However, Eckels recorded three straight striekouts to end the rally and strand both runners in scoring position.
St. Marys then took the lead in the eighth, with Kaylen Eozzo blasting a leadoff triple. Another passed ball allowed Eozzo to race home to put her team up 4-3.
Eckels made that one-run lead standup with three straight groundouts in the bottom of the eight to finish off her complete-game effort. She allowed the three runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out 11 and walking eight.
Peterson wound up the hard-luck loser. She gave up four unearned runs on two hits while striking out 18 and walking seven.