DuBOIS — The heavy-hitting Cranberry Berries kept on hitting and banged out a whopping 22 hits its way to a District 9 Class 2A softball title.
Scoring in all but one inning, the Berries kept putting on the offensive pressure as they dealt Redbank Valley a 16-5 loss in seven innings at Heindl Field last Friday afternoon.
Then on Monday in the state opener — see state roundup story — the Berries advanced to Thursday’s state quarterfinals with a 10-1 win over Freedom. So that’s 16 runs in the last 13 innings for the D9 champions.
Meanwhile, the Lady Bulldogs’ season ended at 11-6, two of those losses coming to the Berries. They lost a 6-1 decision at Cranberry on May 8. This time around, offense was an even bigger theme as the Berries banged out almost two dozen hits.
“We knew they could hit,” Lady Bulldogs head coach John Sayers said. “Up at Cranberry, we lost 6-1, but they came to play and wanted it.”
All nine Berries in the starting lineup had at least one hit. Cleanup hitter Rachael McCauley and No. 9 hitter Jenna Seigworth each had four hits, all of them singles. Maddie Cornelius and Kaylie Bruce each had three hits while Megan Hadden and Emily Duncan finished with two hits.
Starting pitcher Andrea Watson and Cornelius tripled while Bruce, Hadden and Duncan ripped doubles.
It looked like Cranberry, which won its seventh straight game, was ready to cruise to a quick 10-Run win in five innings after it built a 9-0 win after four innings. Bruce doubled in a run and McCauley drove in Bruce in the first inning. Cornelius singled in a run in the second inning and Malliah Schreck singled in a run while the Berries took advantage of two Redbank Valley errors to make it 5-0.
Then in the fourth, Cranberry plated four more runs with Hadden doubling in two runs and Duncan doubling in another run.
Down 9-0 after holding the Berries scoreless in the fifth, the Lady Bulldogs scored five unearned runs to get back into the game. With one out, Montana Hetrick reached on an outfield error and then after Brynn Rearick reached on a forceout, Brooke Holben delivered a two-run double.
A Shylie Shreckengost single and a walk to Becca Kunselman, two runs came home on an infield throwing error. Teja Hageter scored and Elaina Miller reached after striking out on a wild pitch.
“We don’t quit,” Sayers said. “We don’t need to take so long to start but that’s our M-O when we start playing in the fourth or fifth inning. That happened this year.
“(Cranberry) made the plays they had to make. We smoked some balls right at people and their outfield is very good. I was pleased with how we put the ball in play, but it was at people at times.”
Watson struck out eight and walked two in his seven-hitter.
“She wasn’t as wild as she was the first time,” Sayers said. “She had things under control today.”
Redbank Valley’s uprising with the help of some sloppy Cranberry defense in the fifth was answered by a five-run Berries rally in the sixth and two more runs in the seventh to set the final score.
Watson tripled home two runs and scored on Cornelius’ triple. Cornelius drove in her third run in the seventh, singling in a run.
Sayers loses four seniors to graduation, two of them starters, so he’s looking forward at getting back into the saddle next spring.
“I’m glad we made it this far,” Sayers said. “We had every intention of winning, but we didn’t. It’s good experience that they understand the stage we’re on. The game is played the same, but it’s a different atmosphere. Knowing that if you lose, you’re done, they need to experience that. We got to the semifinals last year and we got to the finals this year. We didn’t play the defense we did against Curwensville, but it’s good experience and we’ll build on it.”