COCHRANTON — Mother Nature has tried her best to wreak havoc at the Junior League Softball Section 1 Tournament in Cochranton, but St. Marys has overcome those efforts — as well as two different opponents on the field — to reach to reach today’s championship game as the lone undefeated squad.
St. Marys opened sectional play Friday with a 9-5 win against District 3 champ Corry, then took a 3-1 lead against host Cochranton (D-1) champ before severe storms halted play after two innings.
When action resumed late Saturday afternoon, both teams returned with the bats and combine for 10 runs on 17 hits.
Fortunately for St. Marys, it came out on the right side of that hit barrage in a 7-6 victory that sent Cochranton into an elimination game against Corry Saturday evening. St. Marys outhit Cochanton 17-14 in the victory.
St. Marys plays the winner of that elimination game at 1 p.m. today at Cochranton High School. The section champ moves on to play at states in Berwick.
All told, St. Marys had 28 hits in the two wins — an attack led by the likes of Emily Mourer, Kara Hanslovan and Julia Jones. The trio have accounted for 12 of the team’s 28 hits.
Mourer has powered the power, blasting a home run in each victory while going a combined 3-for-8 with five RBIs. Hanslovan is 5-for-6 with two RBIs, whiles Jones is 4-for-8 with three RBIs.
A trio of pitchers benefitted from all that offense, as St. Marys elected to start Shannon Kaiser and Julia Jones against Corry and Cochranton, respectively, before Kendall Young came on in relief to record with win in both games.
In Friday’s opener, Corry jumped on Kaiser for two runs in the top of the first to take the quick lead, only to see St. Marys answer back with a run in the bottom of the first and two more in the second to go up 3-2.
Jones tripled in the bottom of the first and scored on a sacrifice fly by Young. In the second, Emma Sorg plated a run on a groundout, while a sac fly by Kaiser put St. Marys up a run.
That lead was short-lived though, as Corry pushed a third run across against Kaiser in the third to tie things before Young was brought in.
St. Marys regained the lead at 5-3 in the bottom of the third on a two-run homer to center by Mourer.
Corry fought back though and pulled even again with a pair of runs in the fifth off Young. Kiran Bugbee had a RBI single and Alli Goodwill a run-scoring double.
St. Marys reponded with a four-run bottom of the fifth, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Hanslovan got things started with a one-out walk, and after stealing second, scored on a single by Olivia Eckels. A two-out error later extended the inning, and St. Marys capitalized as Reiter singled home a run and Sorg plated the fourth run on a bunt single.
Young then retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings to finish off the win. She allowed the two earned runs on two hits in five innings of work. She struck out six and walked one.
In the second game Friday, St. Marys got a two-run homer from Mourer in the first and a sac fly from Jones in the second to lead 3-1 when play was stopped. Jones allowed a run in the bottom of the first on a double by mound foe Tatyiana Jackson.
When the game resumed Saturday, Cochranton pulled within one (3-2) with a run in the bottom of the third, but St. Marys countered with a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Jones and Hanslovan had RBI singles in both innings to account for all four runs that put St. Marys up 7-2.
Cochranton didn’t go away though, capitalizing on a St. marys error in the bottom of the fifth to score two unearned runs to get within three at 7-4.
The hosts then made things even more interesting when they score two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run single by Megan Heim to make it a one-run game at 7-6.
An error then loaded the bases with one out, but Young got a popup to short and a strikeout to end the rally and send St. Marys to the title game.
Young went all five innings Saturday, allowing five runs, three earned, on 10 hits, She struck out five and walked one in earning her second win of the tournament.