ST. MARYS — One day after dropping into the losers’ bracket of the Pennsylvania State Tournament, the St. Marys Little League softball team got back on track with a 6-0 shutout over Archbald at St. Marys High School on Thursday evening.
The game was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. at Benzinger Park, the site of the whole tournament, but inclement weather moved the game to the high school and pushed the time back nearly two hours.
The second game of the day between Loyalsock and Fairchance was also moved to the high school, a game won by Loyalsock, 7-3.
St. Marys and Loyalsock will now square off this afternoon at 3 p.m. back at Benzinger Park with the winner getting a spot in the losers’ bracket finals.
For four innings, St. Marys was kept off the scoreboard by Archbald pitcher Maranda Runco. The host team finally pushed a run across in the fifth inning before exploding for five runs in the sixth inning.
“We just couldn’t get baserunners,” said St. Marys manager Bob Young. “We like to get baserunners on and start making some chaos and get things happening. We just couldn’t get it going early on. But their pitcher is really good. That was a really good changeup she threw, and we definitely struggled with that. You could see it coming and you still have a hard time.”
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, St. Marys pinch hitter Emma Sorg got on base with a base hit. After moving up to second on a wild pitch, Sorg broke for third base and swiped the bag easily. The throw to third base sailed into left field, allowing Sorg to break for the plate and the Archbald left fielder’s throw to the plate was not in time, giving St. Marys its first run.
Lindsey Reiter started off the top of the sixth with a walk before Kara Hanslovan reached on an error. A Kendall Young groundout moved both runners up a base before the biggest play of the game.
Caitlyn Vollmer put down a perfect bunt in front of the pitcher’s circle. Runco initially waited to pick up the ball hoping it would go foul, but it never did as she picked up the ball. Vollmer noticed that nobody was covering second base on the play, and Vollmer made a heads-up baserunning play and moved up a base. Reiter scored on the play, and Hanslovan went to third.
Two more runs scored as the Archbald first baseman’s throw to the plate was off the mark on the next batter, allowing Hanslovan and Vollmer to both score.
Two more runs scored later in the inning as Olivia Eckels crossed home plate on a fielder’s choice, and Gabby Weisner scored on a wild pitch, giving St. Marys a 6-0 lead.
On the defensive end, St. Marys didn’t have a whole lot of trouble at all as Young led the way in the pitcher’s circle. Young allowed just three hits over her six shutout innings. She didn’t walk a batter, and struck out seven Archbald batters.
“She was throwing well. She was on the spot,” said Young.
Young had three innings where Archbald went down in order.
Archbald started off the bottom of the second with a single from Giannia Magliocchi before retiring her at second base on a fielder’s choice. Lydian VanWert was then thrown out at second trying to steal the base.
Archbald had their best chance to score in the bottom of the fourth as Morgan McVicar and Runco had back-to-back one-out singles. However, Young beared down from there and got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, McVicar reached on an error, but got the next batter to ground out to end the game.
St. Marys is now 2-1 in the state tournament with a loss eliminating them. St. Marys would have to win games today, Saturday and two on Sunday to take the state championship and advance to eastern regionals.
“The way we had to fight through districts, the way we lost a game and had to battle through, I think that prepared us for this,” said Young. “I keep telling them it’s the same goal, we just have a different path now. The goal still is to win. We’re going to take it one game at a time and do our best.”
Clearfield and Morrisville will play at 6 p.m. in the winners’ bracket final on Friday after the St. Marys-Loyalsock game.