20190602-ce-sp Bittner hitting

DuBois Central Catholic’s Alyssa Bittner, shown hitting in a District 9 Class A quarterfinal game against Coudersport, and the Lady Cardinals will take on Leechburg in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs Monday.

DuBOIS — District 9 champion DuBois Central Catholic will begin its run in the PIAA Class A playoffs Monday as it takes on Leechburg, the third place finishers out of the WPIAL.

The game will take place at Heindl Field at 5 p.m.

The Lady Blue Devils are making their first appearance in the PIAA playoffs in 10 years as their last trip to the state tournament came in 2009.

That year Leechburg also faced the D-9 champion in the opening round, as it was defeated 3-0 by Curwensville as the Lady Golden Tide went on to win the state title that year.

On the other side, the Lady Cardinals are making their fourth straight appearance in the state tournament.

Last season DCC defeated District 5 champion Meyersdale in the opening round before falling to District 6 champ Claysburg-Kimmel in the quarterfinals.

In 2017 and 2016 the Lady Cardinals saw their season come to an end one win short of the state title game, as they were defeated by WPIAL champion West Greene in the semifinal round both years.

Leechburg defeated Jefferson-Morgan 3-2 in the WPIAL third place game Tuesday to earn a spot in the PIAA playoffs as it was led by sophomore star Emma Ritchie.

Ritchie has led the Lady Blue Devils at the plate and in the circle throughout the season.

In the circle she pitched every inning for the team this year, allowing 40 runs, just 25 of which were earned over 95 1/3 innings to post a 1.84 ERA along with 118 strikeouts.

Ritchie is also one of several key players at the plate for Leechburg’s high-scoring arsenal as she is batting .438 on the year with a team-high 27 RBIs and 11 runs scored.

The team’s three seniors are also leaders for the Lady Blue Devils at the plate in Kiera Jones, Kristen Knapp and Aubry Skeel.

Jones is batting .460 with 22 runs and 12 RBIs, while Knapp is hitting .429 with 30 runs scored and 22 RBIs and Skeel has a .481 average with 21 runs scored and 20 runs batted in.

Sophomore McKenna Pierce leads Leechburg with 10 doubles, three home runs, and 32 runs scored to go along with 22 RBIs and a .482 batting average.

Leechburg will look to have to find a way to solve DCC’s tandem of Ashley Wruble and Morgan Tyler on the mound as well as attempt to slow down the Lady Cardinals’ bats.

Wruble and Tyler have served as a one-two punch in the circle throughout the year for the team, as they have split time on the mound for the entire season.

Wruble has struck out 52 in 52 innings this year and posted a 1.88 ERA allowing 25 runs, 14 of which were earned.

While Tyler has pitched less innings (47 2/3) than Wruble, the freshman has been more dominant, striking out 90 and posting a 0.88 ERA, allowing 14 runs and just six earned runs on the year.

At the plate, Wruble is at the center of the Lady Cardinals’ offense that can do damage from the top of the lineup to the bottom.

The senior is hitting .653 on the year with nine doubles, seven triples and six home runs to go along with a team-high 46 runs and 41 RBIs.

Mia Meholic, Shayleigh Gulvas, Shyanne Lundy, Carley Semancik, Avery Sickeri, Alyssa Bittner and Maia Cogley all have had impressive seasons at the plate.

DuBois Central Catholic is averaging 14.5 runs per game this year while surrendering just 1.9 runs per contest.

On the other side, Leechburg is averaging 12.1 runs per game and allowing 2.3 runs a game.

The winner of Monday’s game will move on to the quarterfinal round to face either D-6 champion Claysburg-Kimmel or WPIAL runner up Union on Thursday.

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