WEST SUNBURY – If the third time is the charm, then in her third start in the District IX Championships, Curwensville Area High School pitcher Tierra Shope was certainly charming. In the circle, Shope blanked hosting Moniteau 12-0 while making the most of her plate experiences with a 3-for-4 afternoon including two doubles on Friday.
In the last two seasons, while competing in the Class A playoffs, the Lady Tide bowed out in their first round games – losses that sat uneasy with the Tide’s right hander. As a freshman, Shope lost to Smethport 1-0 when the only hit she allowed in the game cleared the center field fence. Last season, in a hitter’s duel, everything off the Coudersport bats seemed to fall in for hits in an 8-5 exit for Curwensville. Both of those games were also played on the road.
In Friday’s game with Moniteau, the higher seed in the Class AA bracket, Shope’s only pre-game comment to head coach Allen Leigey was, “I’m ready.” She then stepped in the circle and the batter’s box and proved it.
“It seems strange to talk about Tierra’s hitting, but she stepped in and gave us three knocks,” Leigey said. ”We had been struggling in the lower part of the line-up, and I told her we were going with a straight nine card. It paid off today.”
Shope and the defense allowed just two runners to get to third base – one after an error, and one on a triple, in the first two innings. The Lady Warrior offense could manage to get on base just three more times in the game – all of them in the fifth and final inning. Shope scattered three hits (two in the fifth inning with one of those the result of an obstruction call). She struck out one batter and walked one as well.
On an unusually chilly day, the Tide offense was able to put the heat on Moniteau in the first inning. Sarah Wriglesworth slapped a one out single to center and moved to second on Cheyenne Pentz’ single. After the second out, Abby Johnson and Abby Dugo showed their patience at the plate to draw back-to-back walks for the 1-0 lead. However, the visitors left the bases loaded after that.
Moniteau threatened in the bottom of the first when a one-out error left Heather McMillen on second. McMillen moved to third on a ground out, but was stranded there. Warrior catcher Emily Hiwiller drew the only free pass of the day off Shope, but jumped off the bag too early on a steal attempt and was called out.
Again the hosts threatened in the second when Nicole Buterbaugh slapped a triple down the right field line with one out. Shope followed the three-bagger with a strikeout and got opposing pitcher Taylor Hasychak to pop out to left to end the last threat of the game for the Warriors.
“We gave them runners in the early innings and got out of it,” noted Leigey. ”I was a little nervous because we were letting them hang around (The Tide left two runners on in the second without scoring). We felt that if we could put the ball in play, we could put up some good numbers, but we were sitting on that 1-0 lead, and I wasn’t comfortable.”
The Curwensville offense gave their coach the peace of mind he was looking for in the fourth inning by sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring nine times. Shope started the hit parade with a one out single to left. Taylor Goodman and Wriglesworth followed with singles for the first run of the inning. Pentz then walked to load the bases before Tiffany Carter singled in a run.
Johnson followed with a two-run double and Dugo singled in two more for a 7-0 lead. Alaina Stiles singled to send Dugo to third, and Nikki Harker added an RBI safety as well. Dominique Newkirk came in to run for Harker with Stiles at third. Newkirk drew a late throw to second on a stolen base and Stiles also stole home for a 9-0 count. Newkirk finished the inning’s scoring when Shope doubled for her second hit of the inning.
Two runs were added by the Tide in the sixth set up by hits from Pentz and Carter. The 10-run rule went into effect as the defense closed the book on the hosts in the fifth.
“We didn’t really know what to expect coming into the AA tournament,” said Leigey. ”We went out in the first round the last two years, and it’s really good to get to the finals. We wanted this win, and I’m really proud of these kids.”
Curwensville finished their first appearance in the Class AA championships with 16 total hits – 10 from the senior bats. Goodman, who was recently named as the Player-of-the-year in the Allegany League Small School Division Southern Tier, finished with three hits along with Shope’s pair of double and a single . Wriglesworth, Pentz and Carter all added two hits each. Dugo tallied four RBI while Johnson chased two runners home.
NOTE - Goodman now has collected 101 career hits as a Golden Tide player. Carter as designated player, Johnson in left field and Dugo at third base were also recently named as league All-Stars.
Curwensville’s opponent for the title game will not be known until Tuesday. Top-seeded Redbank Valley and fourth-seeded Karns City were also posponed on Thursday due to rain, but the make-up date was pushed to next week. The site and date for the District IX Class AA Championship game will be determined after the Tuesday outcome.
CURWENSVILLE — 12
Taylor Goodman 2b 5130, Sarah Wriglesworth cf 4221, Cheyenne Pentz ss 3220, Tiffany Carter c 3221, Abby Johnson lf 3112, Abby Dugo 3b 3114, Alaina Stiles dp 4110, Nikki Harker 1b 3011, Dominique Newkirk pr 0100, Tierra Shope p 4131, Riley Young cr 0000, , TOTALS – 32 AB 12 R 16 H 10 RBI.
MONITEAU — 0
Alyssa Dailey cf/3b 2000, Heather McMillen 2b 2000, Chloe Eshenbaugh ss 2000, Emily Hiwiller c/1b 1000, Sydney Boben 3b/c 2000, Nicole Buterbaugh dp/lf 2020, Aleisha Fowler rf 2000, Taylor Hasychak p 2010, Courtney Sowinski lf 1000, Kelsey Anderson cf 1000, Kayla Campbell flex/1b 0000, TOTALS – 17 AB 0 R 3 H 0 RBI.
SCORES BY INNINGS – R H E
Curwensville 100 92x x – 12 16 1
Moniteau 000 00x x – 0 3 1
ERRORS – Johnson; Eshenbaugh. LOB – Curwensville 10; Moniteau 3. 2B – Johnson, Shope 2. 3B – Buterbaugh. SB – Stiles, Newkirk. WP -Hasychak. PB – Hiwiller.
PITCHINGCurwensville - Shope 5 IP 3 H 0 R 0 ER 1 BB 1 K 0 HB
Moniteau - Hasychak 5 IP 16 H 12 R 11 ER 5 BB 0 K 0 HB
WP - Shope (16-5). LP – Hasychak (15-5).
Lady Tide Scoreboard: