KERSEY – A return to glory was claimed Saturday afternoon in Kersey as the Curwensville Lady Tide captured the 2009 District 9 Class “A” softball title by dumping previously unbeaten Coudersport 6-0. The Lady Tide last one the D-9 championship in 2007 when they also went on to win the state crown.
Head coach of Curwensville, Allen Leigey, afterwards talked about this year’s squad, “When we lost last year in the District finals we all counted the days until the first practice for this season. The kids became very committed and determined to reach the goal of being District 9 champions.”
The game was billed as a duel between two of the top pitchers in Western Pennsylvania with Holly Lansberry of the Lady Tide (20-1) and Karli Duffee of the Lady Falcons (17-0). It was all of that and more for the first six innings.
Lansberry struck out five straight to start the game, eight of the first nine and twelve of the first fifteen. On the afternoon the Tide hurler had 14.
Duffee struck out seven of the first ten Tide outs she garnered and ended the battle with eight.
The Lady Tide stranded one runner in each of the first three innings, getting one as far as third base.
Lansberry reached first base to start the game on an infield single but went no further as Duffee struck out two of the three outs.
In the second frame third baseman Jenessa Stiles of Curwensville reached on an error and was eventually stranded on second as once again Duffee struck out two of the three outs.
Same story in the third inning for the Lady Tide as right fielder Erin Bressler reached base on an infield single and actually made it as far as third base on two passed balls. However, Duffee again struck out two more Tide hitters to dodge the bullet.
Leigey talked about the slow start of his team\’s offense, “We were just too anxious to start with. Not nervous at all. Every player wanted to do something to help the team. When we finally settled down we did what we expected to do.”
The Lady Falcons never did zone in on Lansberry until the sixth inning when their first two hitters reached base. Before that though it was the Tide ace at her best. Lansberry struck out the side in the first and third innings while striking out two each in the second, fourth and fifth.
Lady Falcon designated player, Angela Smoulder, finally broke up the no-hitter attempt of Lansberry with a fifth inning single with two outs.
Curwensville would score what proved to be the winning run in the top of the fourth inning with some good old-fashioned two out lightning. Stacey Johnson made it to first on an error by Falcon shortstop Tori Brown to get things started. A passed ball would get Johnson to second, followed by an infield single from Jenae Stiles which would score Johnson.
Coudersport mounted it’s biggest and last serious threat in the bottom of the sixth when Lady Falcon catcher Ellen Gerner drew a base on balls. Brown made it to first base on an infield single, giving the Falcons runners on first and second with no outs. Lansberry then did some digging in of her own as she got leadoff hitter Kayla Bohn to pop out back to her. Then Brielle Whitman went down on strikes before Duffee flew out to shortstop Shannon McDonald to end the short-lived rally.
The Lady Tide would leave two runners on base in the sixth. Catcher Ashley Demchak at third base and Jenessa Stiles at second would advance no further as Duffee dug in and retired the side.
It was still a classic after six innings as the Lady Tide clung to a 1-0 lead over number one seeded Coudersport. Then came the fateful seventh inning.
Leigey decided to pinch hit freshman Molly Demchak for centerfielder Tess Bloom. Demchak started it rolling for the Tide with an infield single. Bloom re-entered the game as a pinch runner and moved to second as the next Tide batter, Bressler, reached on an error.
Lansberry flew out to left for the first out of the inning but the Tide weren’t even close to being finished.
Sara Clark was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases for Curwensville with senior Shannon McDonald waiting in the wings in the on deck circle. And the shortstop delivered.
With the first extra base hit for the Lady Tide in the last three games, McDonald smacked a double just inside the third base line clearing the bases and giving the Tide a very comfortable margin at 4-0.
Ashley Demchak and Jenessa Stiles would follow with singles with Jenae Stiles reaching base on a dropped infield fly by Falcon first baseman Megan Hau to help the Tide score their last two runs.
Smoulder would get a two out single for the Lady Falcons in the bottom of the seventh before Lansberry would get Tigan Chiumento to line out to first baseman Johnson to end the game and crown the Lady Tide champions.
On the afternoon the Lady Tide had an amazing five infield singles out of their total of nine hits.
Ashley Demchak and Lansberry each had two hits for Curwensville while Smoulder had two for the Lady Falcons.
Curwensville, now 22-1, will begin it’s quest for PIAA gold when they battle Leechburg, 16-4, Monday in the first round of the PIAA Class “A” playoffs at Brockway High School at 4:30 pm. Leechburg won the WPIAL Class “A” Section 4 title this year and then finished third in the recent WPIAL District 7 playoffs.
In 2007 Curwensville also played Leechburg in the first round of the PIAA’s at Brockway and came home with a 1-0 victory. That win helped propel the Lady Tide to their first ever state title.
Then Leigey looked forward to Monday and the start of the PIAA playoffs, “I have a good feeling about the state playoffs. We just need to stay focused and take care of what is in front of us. Score a few runs, then let Holly (Lansberry) do her thing.”
Coudersport (21-1) will play the District 6 champions, Claysburg-Kimmel, also on Monday, in the PIAA festival, at Legion Field in Hollidaysburg at 4 pm.
Listen to Lady Tide PIAA softball action Monday on WOKW-FM, 102.9, starting with the pre-game at 4:15 pm.
CURWENSVILLE – 6 Holly Lansberry p 4020, Sara Clark lf 3100, Shannon McDonald ss 4113, Ashley Demchak c 4120, Jenessa Stiles 3b 4012, Stacey Johnson 1b 4100, Jenae Stiles 2b 4011, Tess Bloom cf 3100, Molly Demchak ph 1010, Erin Bressler rf 3110. TOTALS – 34 6 9 6
COUDERSPORT – 0 Kayla Bohn cf 3000, Brielle Whitman lf 3000, Karli Duffee p 3000, Megan Hau 1b 3000, Kori McManus 3b 3000, Angela Smoulder dp 3020, Tigan Chiumento rf 3000, Ellen Gerner c 1000, Tori Brown ss 2010, Amanda Morey 2b/flex 0000. TOTALS – 24 0 3 0
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
CURWENSVILLE 000 100 5 6 9 0
COUDERSPORT 000 000 0 0 3 5
ERRORS – McManus, Brown 2, Morey, Hau. DP – COUDERSPORT. LOB – CURWENSVILLE – 8 COUDERSPORT – 3. 2B – McDonald. PB – Gerner 3. HBP – Clark (by Duffee).
CURWENSVILLE Lansberry 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K
COUDERSPORT Duffee 7 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HB
WP – Lansberry (21-1), LP – Duffee (17-1)