CURWENSVILLE – The District IX Class AA Softball Championships are set to get underway Monday, and the Curwensville Area High School squad enters action as the fifth seed in a five-team tournament. The Lady Tide, who captured the first class AA district title in school history last season, will have to defend their title by traveling the longest route to get back to the championship game.
“Our record is a bit deceiving; we were in all but at least two games,” said head coach Allen Leigey. “The scores don’t always show it, but we were competitive in every game. Hopefully, it will be our ‘A’ team that shows up this week, and we’ll get the job done.”
Curwensville (9-10) is entering the post season with its first non-winning regular season since 2004. The Lady Tide finished at 5-13 ten years ago, but have been very successful since that time with two state titles and several district crowns. Defending the district title this year would secure a winning season to this year’s squad.
Step one on Monday is actually a rematch from last year’s district final. The Lady Tide will travel to fourth seeded Redbank Valley (8-7) for a quarterfinal match-up. Curwensville ousted the Lady Bulldogs 2-0 to claim the crown last year. Redbank was the top seed in the tournament in 2013 while the Tide was ranked third.
“I think we’ll show up to play on Monday,” Leigey mentioned. “I look to (Tierra) Shope to keep us in the game; she’s done it for four years now. We have to back her up by making plays in the field, and if we get runners on, we have to score.
“We have left 159 runners on base this season and have to get over our sixth inning woes. That’s when we seemed to hit our bumps this season. We have to focus and turn in complete games during the post-season.”
Shope, a senior who has been Curwensville’s ace in the circle since her freshman year, is one win away from her 100th career win and six strikeouts away from 100 this season. She has been pitching most of this season with a reoccurring groin injury and comes into the post season with a 6-9 slate for 2014. Sophomore hurler Riley Young, with a 3-1 mark, is on the ready to step in if needed.
Shope has also emerged as an offensive threat this season with a .439 batting average and wasn’t a regular in the line-up until late last season. Junior catcher Alaina Stiles leads the team in hitting on the year with an impressive .443 average. She also leads the team in extra base hits with eight doubles, three triples and four home runs. Junior right fielder Megan McCartney has pounded out a .360 for the season while seniors Abby Dugo (.356), Bethany Carns (.333), Nikki Harker (.311) and Kealy Wassil (.304) have also been productive at the plate. Dugo plays at short while Harker is at first, Wassil has grabbed the role as designated player and Carns shares time at third with junior Jourdan Round.
When not in the circle, Young handles duties at second base. The rest of the defense sets up with senior Melanie Milliron in left and Hannah Dixon in center. Young and Milliron are hitting a a .283 pace with Dixon in the flex spot most of the season, but batting .162 for the season.
“We have hit the ball well all season, against some decent pitchers,” Leigey said of his line-up. “Our last game we hit the ball really well (17 hits in a 13-1 win over Clarion-Limestone), and we need to keep that momentum. We need to just put up some runs early in the game to take away Redbank’s small ball offense.”
Curwensville and Redbank were scheduled to play in the regular season, but the wet spring postponed the outing and no mutual make-up date was ever found. A look at common opponents shows Brockway defeating both teams. The Lady Rovers dumped Redbank 19-9 and doubled up Curwensville 8-2 and 7-3.
The winner of Monday’s game will play top seeded and unbeaten Moniteau (17-0). That game will be played at Moniteau at 4:30 on Wednesday. The other semifinal game to be played on Wednesday features second seeded Karns City (8-3) hosting Cranberry (11-5). The winners of Wednesday’s games will battle for the district title at a time and place to be named later.
CLASS A SEEDINGS
1. DuBois Central Catholic, 2. Smethport, 3. Otto-Eldred, 4. Keystone, 5. Elk County Catholic, 6. Port Allegany, 7. Coudersport, 8. Johnsonburg, 9. Clarion-Limestone, 10. Brockway, 11. AC Valley. The first round games begin Monday, May 19.
CLASS AAA SEEDINGS
1. St. Marys, 2. Punxsutawney, 3. Clearfield. The first game (Clearfield at Punxsutawney) is Tuesday, May 20.
Lady Tide Scoreboard:
|3/24||@ Johnsonburg||ppd.||0 – 0|
|3/26||DUBOIS CENTRAL||ppd.||0 – 0|
|3/31||BROOKVILLE||9 – 8||1 – 0|
|4/02||@ Sheffield (DH)||ppd.||1 – 0|
|4/04||HARMONY||ppd.||1 – 0|
|4/07||KANE||ppd.||1 – 0|
|4/09||@ Elk County Catholic||6 – 7 (8 inn)||1 – 1|
|4/11||@ West Branch||ppd.||1 – 1|
|4/14||BROCKWAY||susp.||1 – 1|
|4/15||@ Johnsonburg||ppd.||1 – 1|
|4/16||@ West Branch||2 – 7||1 – 2|
|4/17||@ Harmony||11 – 1||2 – 2|
|4/21||@ Mo Valley||5 – 6||2 – 3|
|4/23||JOHNSONBURG||8 – 7||3 – 3|
|4/24||@ Sheffield (DH)||13 – 1||4 – 3|
|4/24||@ Sheffield||10 – 1||5 – 3|
|4/28||@ DuBois Central||1 – 9||5 – 4|
|4/29||@ Johnsonburg||ppd.||5 – 4|
|4/30||CLARION-LIMESTONE||ppd.||5 – 4|
|5/01||GLENDALE||ppd.||5 – 4|
|5/03||REDBANK VALLEY||cancelled||5 – 4|
|5/03||GLENDALE||4 – 1||6 – 4|
|5/05||@ Kane||10 – 0||7 – 4|
|5/05||@ Kane||11 – 1||8 – 4|
|5/06||@ Johnsonburg||3 – 4||8 – 5|
|5/07||ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC||5 – 10||8 – 6|
|5/08||DUBOIS CENTRAL||3 – 9||8 – 7|
|5/12||@ Brockway||2 – 8||8 – 8|
|5/13||@ Brockway||3 – 7||8 – 9|
|5/14||@ Clarion-Limestone (DH)||3 – 5||8 – 10|
|5/14||@ Clarion-Limestone||13 – 1||9 – 10|
|District 9 AA Playoffs|
|5/19||@ Redbank Valley|