BROCKWAY – The big question for the Curwensville Area High School softball team going into Tuesday\’s District 9 Class A semifinal game was how effective pitcher Holly Lansberry would be after injuring her right knee late in last week\’s quarterfinal win over DuBois Central Catholic.
The fact that Elk County Catholic solved the junior right-hander for 11 hits, more than she had given up in any of her previous 56 career starts, indicated she wasn\’t 100 percent, especially considering she had shut out the Lady Crusaders 6-0 on a one-hitter and 3-0 on a no-hitter in their regular-season meetings.
The fact that Lansberry sent 19 batters back to the dugout with their bats in their hands indicated she was healthy enough. Lady Crusaders were caught looking at the third strike on 10 of her career-high single-game strikeouts.
So, Lansberry was able to walk off the Brockway Area High School Field with a 6-3 victory – No. 50 of her career – that secured the defending PIAA champion Lady Tide a berth in the state tournament.
First, No. 1 seed and defending champ Curwensville (20-1) and No. 2 seed Smethport (19-1) will return to Brockway Thursday to play for the 9-A championship at 3:30 p.m. The Lady Hubbers spotted Rocky Grove (14-6) a two-run lead in Tuesday\’s nightcap before roaring back for a 9-2 win.
The Lady Tide took control early and built a 6-1 lead through five innings while the Lady Crusaders were leaving seven runners on base.
Six-seven-eight batters Tess Bloom, Erin Bressler and Morgan Peterman combined for five hits and four runs batted in to pace Curwensville.
\”Morgan and Erin hit the ball good,\” Lady Tide coach Allen Leigey said. \”Morgan was in the middle of everything, and Erin just stepped up huge with the bat. She doesn\’t have a lot of pop, but she hits the ball up the middle, to right field, to left field. And Tess came up with a big hit that made it 6-1.\”
An infield error on Stacey Johnson\’s grounder opened the door for the Lady Tide in the second inning.
After Bloom sacrificed, Leigey inserted Katie Wriglesworth as a pinch-runner for Johnson, and she scored standing up on Bressler\’s single through the middle.
Peterman followed with a shot near the right field line that she turned into an RBI-triple. One out later, Sara Clark dropped a fly ball near the right field line for a run-scoring single.
Elk County Catholic (15-6) scored the first earned run off Lansberry in 70 innings when pesky No. 9 hitter Kayla Leuschel\’s high fly to left fell behind Clark for a double, Anna Hawkins singled to right and Mary Kate Minnick slapped a single through the left side with two outs.
Aggressive baserunning by Peterman produced a run for Curwensville in the fourth inning. She singled to right, advanced to second on a wild pitch and broke for third on Lauren McKeown\’s groundout. When the throw from first got away from Lady Crusader third baseman Brittany Buchheit, Peterman scooted home.
\”That was key,\” Leigey said. \”When we get ahead, we\’ll be real aggressive and try to push the envelope.\”
In the fifth, Elk County Catholic loaded the bases with one out on hits by Leuschel, Hawkins and Loren Olewnik. Curwensville third baseman Jenessa Stiles grabbed Minnick\’s one-hopper for a force at the plate and Peterman picked up Buchheit\’s slow roller to the right side and alertly beat the Lady Crusader to first base to end the threat. Those were the only two outs not recorded by Lansberry.
Then, the Lady Tide provided their pitcher with a little extra insurance. Singles by Stiles and Shannon McDonald and an ECC error put runners at every base. With one out and the Lady Crusader infielders moved in for a possible play at the plate, Bloom rolled a single to center for two RBIs.
\”That was huge,\” Leigey said. \”We were sitting at 4-1. That would have been a little different (in the seventh inning) if it was 4-3 with two runners on and the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second.
\”You give me six runs and (Holly) on the mound, I\’ll take it any day. Some way, some how, we\’re gonna come out with a win.\”
The Lady Crusaders wouldn\’t go quietly, though.
Leuschel, for the third time in the game, led off with a hit, and Hawkins received the lone walk issued by Lansberry. One out later, Olewnik bounced her third single through the left side, loading the bases. Minnick\’s slow roller to first base was good for her third safety and one run, and an error on the play at first allowed Hawkins to score, too.
With the tying run coming to the plate, Leigey called a timeout and brought his batterymates and infielders together.
\”I said don\’t worry about it,\” he stated. \”I said, \’Holly, these next two batters are yours. You\’re gonna take \’em because you\’ve taken them all day long. I don\’t anticipate any more damage being done.\’
\”She just nodded like \’Okay.\’
Strikeouts 18 and 19 punctuated Lansberry\’s eighth, seven-inning complete game.
\”She threw 134 pitches, which is more than I wanted her to throw,\” Leigey said. \”They hit the ball decent. A lot of them were bleeders.
\”But she pitched well for what she went through, being injured and really not throwing a lot from the time of the injury until now. Her velocity was good. We were sticking with fastballs and curves. We weren\’t really mixing it up too awful much.\”
Leigey kept Lansberry, who has a .540 average, out of the batter\’s box because of her injury and felt that had some effect on Curwensville\’s offense.
\”You figure we took our second best hitter out of the lineup, and we got nine hits without a bonafide leadoff hitter,\” Leigey said. \”That\’s something.
\”But I was pleased. I thought we played pretty well. We can play better. I told them it wasn\’t our \”A\” game.\”
The Lady Tide will need that to repeat as district champion. A 4-3 squeaker over Smethport in the 9-A semis was one of the biggest in Curwensville\’s march to the state crown last year.
ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC — 3
Anna Hawkins lf 3120, Kelsey Schwabenbauer 2b 4000, Loren Olewnik c 4030, Mary Kate Minnick rf 4032, Brittany Buchheit 3b 4000, Lauren Evers dp 3000, Dani Cassels ph 1000, Sandy Levenduski 1b 3000, Marissa Bauer p 2000, Sammi Schlimm ph 1000, Kayla Leuschel cf 3230, Kathleen Caruso (flex) ss 0000. TOTALS: 32 3 11 2.
CURWENSVILLE — 6
Sara Clark lf 4011, Jenessa stiles 3b 4110, Shannon McDonald ss 4120, Ashley Demchak c 3000, Stacey Johnson 1b 3000, Katie Wriglesworth pr 0100, Tess Bloom cf 2012, Erin Bressler rf 3121, Morgan Peterman 2b 3221, Lauren McKeown dp 3000, Holly Lansberry (flex) p 0000. TOTALS: 29 6 9 5.
Score by Innings
Elk County Catholic 001 000 2 – 3 11 4
Curwensville 030 120 x – 6 9 1
Errors – Schwabenbauer 3, Buchheit; Johnson. LOB – Elk County Catholic 9; Curwensville 6. 2B – Leuschel. 3B – Peterman. Sac – Bloom. SB – Hawkins, Minnick.
Elk County Catholic – Bauer 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.
Curwensville – Lansberry 7 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 19 K.
WP – Bauer 1; Lansberry 1.
W – Lansberry (18-1). L – Bauer (4-3).
Umpires – Gary Barr (home plate), Gary Snyder (first base), Ron Dolby (second base); Larry LaBrozzi (third base).