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BROCKWAY - The curtain came down on the 2011 softball season for the Lady Crusaders of Elk County Catholic on Tuesday afternoon when they were defeated by the Clarion Area High Lady Cats by a 9-7 score in the District 9-A semifinals at the Brockway field.
The Lady Crusaders trailed 9-2 going into the top half of the seventh inning and made a gallant effort to pull the game out, cutting it to 9-7 with two runners on bases before the final out of the game was recorded to give the Lady Cats a hard-earned 9-7 victory.
Taylor Schlimm was tagged with the loss for the Lady Crusaders as she went the distance, giving up all nine runs on 10 hits, while striking out four and issuing two walks.
Krista Fuller was the winning pitcher for the Lady Cats as she also went the distance, giving up seven runs on 11 hits while striking out seven and walking one.
Elk Catholic was led in the hitting department by Michelle Imbrogno with two doubles and Anna Hawkins and Kristy Hanes with two singles each. Hannah McGowan, Jessie Ginther, Lyndsey Trumbull, Jenny Cappellio and Jessie McLaughlin each added singles for the Lady Crusaders.
Tiffany Smathers led the Lady Cats with a double and two singles, while Jessica Funk and Brianna Nellis each had two singles, Krista Fuller had a triple and Hannah Wolf and Kelly Peterson a single each.
Neither team was able to generate any offense in the first two innings, but in the third inning the ECCHS girls came up with two runs to take a 2-0 lead. Hanes opened the inning with a single, then Imbrogno doubled her home. Imbrogno then advanced to third on singles by McLaughlin and McGowan. Elk had the bases loaded with no outs, but could only manage one run when Hawkins singled. Two strikeouts and a pop ended the ECCHS threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Clarion girls scored a run when Nellis singled to open the inning, was sacrificed to second and scored on a double by Smathers, who was then doubled off of second on a line drive to center field. This made the score 2-1 in favor of the Lady Crusaders.
Elk went down in order in the fourth, but the Lady Cats took advantage of some loose play by the Lady Crusaders to grab the lead. Hummell opened the inning by drawing a walk. A fly out to center and a ground out was followed by a single by Funk to put runners on first and second. Wolf then reached first on an infield error and that opened the gates as Nellis singled, Fuller tripled and Smathers singled to score five runs for the Lady Cats and give them a 6-2 lead.
Both teams were three up and three down in the fifth. Elk managed a base runner in the sixth on Cappiello's single but couldn't take advantage of it.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Lady Cats pushed across three more runs to take a 9-2 lead. Back-to-back singles by Funk and Wolf opened the inning, then Nellis drew a walk and Peterson singled to account for the three runs.
The top half of the seventh found the Lady Crusaders making a run at tying the game up. Hanes opened the inning with a single, then Imbrogno doubled her home. A strikeout and ground out followed, then Ginther singled to score Imbrogno. Hawkins and Trumbull then singled to score Ginther. An error on Cappiello's pop-up allowed Hawkins to score. This was followed by a walk to Schlimm, then a wild pitch which allowed Trumbull to score to make it 9-7. A ground out ended the inning and the season for the Lady Crusaders as the Lady Cats held on for a 9-7 victory.
Wearing the Maroon and Gold for the final time in softball were seniors Anna Hawkins, Jessie McLaughlin, Jenny Cappiello, Torie Gradizzi, Alexa Hansen, Hannah McGowan, Julia Scacchitti and Samantha Smith.
The Lady Crusaders finished out their season with a 16-4 record.
Elk County Catholic 7
Hannah McGowan 4-0-1, Jessie Ginther 4-1-1, Anna Hawkins 4-1-2, Lyndsey Trumbull 4-1-1, Jenny Cappiello 4-0-1, Taylor Schlimm 3-0-0, Kristy Hanes 4-2-2, Michelle Imbrogno 3-2-2, Jessie McLaughlin 3-0-1, Torie Gradizzi 0-0-0, Julia Scacchitti 0-0-0, Samatha Smith 0-0-0. Totals 33-7-11.
Clarion High 9
Tiffany Smathers 3-0-3, Kelly Peterson 4-0-1, Audrey Hummell 3-1-0, Ashley Hummell 3-0-0, Jessica Funk 3-2-2, Hannah Wolfe 3-2-1, Brianna Nellis 3-3-2, Krista Fuller 2-1-1, Ashley Steiner 0-0-0, Courtney Donaldson 0-0-0. Totals 27-9-10.
Score by innings
ECCHS 002 000 5 7
Clarion 001 503 x 9