FLEETVILLE — The St. Marys Little League All-Star softball team saw its summer come to an end over the weekend, as the squad went 1-1 in its final two games to finish third at the Pennsylvania State Championship.
St. Marys, which went 3-2 at states, knocked off Delaware Valley for a second time in Fleetville Friday evening to reach the losers’ bracket finals. However, the Section 1 champs saw its season end in that game Saturday afternoon in a 7-5 loss to Back Mountain.
The squad was the third St. Marys All-Star team to finish third or better at states this summer. The Little Leaguers (11-12 year-olds) also were third, while the Junior All-Stars (13-14 year-olds) won states and entered Sunday with a 1-1 record in pool play at the East Regional Tournament.
St. Marys had to go to its No. 2 pitcher — Molly hanslovan — in Friday’s game vs. Delaware Valley because regular starter Avery Eckels needed a day off after throwing more than six innings in an extra-inning win againswt Indiana Thursday.
Hanslovan was up to the challenge, as she held Delaware Valley in check for most of the game before the Section 8 champs made a late comeback bid in the bottom of the sixth with St. Marys leading 6-1.
Delaware Valley scored three times in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough as Hanslovan and St. Marys held on for the 6-4 victory.
Hanslovan allowed four runs, all earned, on three hits. She struck out five and walked five. Two of those hits, along with four walks, came in the sixth inning.
Prior to that last inning, the St. Marys offense did a nice job building a lead for Hanslovan despite having just five hits itself.
St. Marys grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first scoring both runs before a two-out single by Ava Villella. Gina Geci reached on a one-out error, while Kaylen Eozzo drew a two-out walk. Both runners eventually scored on wild pitches in the inning.
The score remained 2-0 into the fourth, when St. Marys pushed across two more runs.
Eozzo reached on a leadoff error, while bailey Thorwart followed with a single. Eozzo came home when Calleigh Buzard reached on an error, then Sophia Surra siingled home Thorwart to make it 4-0. Thorwart was 2-for-2 in the game.
Delware Valley got on the board with run in the bottom of the fourth, but St. Marys answered right back a run of its own in the fifth when Buzard drew a bases-loaded walk to force home Eozzo — who led off the inning with a walk.
Geci scored St. Marys’ final run in the sixth after a leadoff walk to put her team up 6-1 before they held on in the bottom half to advance to play another day at states.
St. Marys found itself on the other end on Saturday, as Back Mountain jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the top of the third against Eckels. The Section 5 champs scored twice in the first, once in the second and three times in the third.
St. Marys then slowly fought its way back into the game, starting with a two-run bottom of the third.
Hanslovan jump-started a rally with a two-out single. Geci followed with a walk before Eckels reached on an error that allowed Hanslovan to score. Eozzo stepped in and delivered a single that plated Geci to make it 6-2.
St. Marys added another run in the fourth when Alexa Uhl drew a leadoff walk and scored on a groundout by Maddie Lanzel.
Back Mountain added a run in the fifth to make it a 7-3 game before St. Marys tried to put one final rally together with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
After a pair of strikeouts, Alison Mertz drew a walk before Lanzel singled. That brought Hanslovan to the plate, and she ripped a two-run single to get St. Marys with two at 7-5. Hanslovan had two hits in the loss.
However, Back Mountain’s Nina Barrouk ended the rally — and St. Marys’ season — there with a strikeout.
St. Marys ended its summer with a 10-3 record. Two of those losses came to states, while Punxsutawney beat St. Marys 4-3 in the winners’ bracket finals of districts before St. Marys rebounded to beat Punxsy twice for the title.