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Headed into the top of the seventh inning of the D9 AAA girls' softball semifinal contest at the St. Marys Area High School softball field on Wednesday afternoon, the St. Marys Area Lady Dutch had kept the Clearfield Lady Bisons scoreless and looked set to record a 3-0 victory. Clearfield did not give up so easily, though, as Rachel Hoffman walked and B.J. Bowman connected with one of Lady Dutch pitcher Rachel Ginther's throws to record the only home run of the contest and pull Clearfield within one run of tying the game. St. Marys' defense was able to send the next three batters down in order to take the 3-2 win.
"We played great defense all around," said St. Marys Area coach Manny Gerarge. "Rachel threw a great game for us, and I thought we had some clutch hits and some key bunts."
On the mound for St. Marys, Ginther gave up four hits, walked one, and struck out 10.
Heather Picard went the distance on the mound for Clearfield, giving up seven hits and striking out two.
"Their pitcher threw a good game against us. They came to play and it was a good-quality team we played against," Gerarge said.
St. Marys was led offensively by Mia Keener with a pair of singles. Erica Sorg, Cassie Wonderling, Raelyn Cunningham, Taylor Bellina, and Rachel Ginther all singled.
In addition to Bowman's home run, Rachel Hoffman and Tristan Lewis both doubled for the Lady Bisons and Andrea Butler recorded a single.
Batters for both teams went down in order in the first inning.
The Lady Bisons also failed to see any batters reach base in the top of the second. With one out in the bottom of the inning, St. Marys got their first base runner as Mia Keener bunted and then advanced to second on a passed ball. Raelyn Cunningham singled, scoring Keener. Hayley McGowan flied out to left field for the second out of the inning. Taylor Bellina also bunted to reach base and advance Cunningham to second, but Savanah Krivonyak flied out to right field to strand both runners on base and end the inning with the Lady Dutch holding on to a 1-0 lead.
Both teams' batters went down in order again in the third inning.
The Lady Bisons put their first runner on base in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Rachel Hoffman hit a double but was left stranded as Bowman flied out to center field. The Lady Dutch also put another runner on base in the home half of the inning. Cassie Wonderling singled and was replaced with pinch runner Cassie Daniels. Keener hit a line drive to the second baseman which caught Daniels too far off first, throwing her out for the double play. Cunningham grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Both teams put runners on base in the fifth inning as well, but neither were able to score. With two outs in the top of the inning, Tristan Lewis doubled for the Lady Bisons but was unable to advance as Robyn McBride struck out. In the bottom of the inning, McGowan reached first on an error but was thrown out at second on a double play that resulted from a bunt by Bellina.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Andrea Butler singled to give Clearfield another shot at tying the score. The top of the inning ended, though, as Melinda Owens hit a line drive to St. Marys' third baseman Savanah Krivonyak, who made the double play by picking Butler off at first. St. Marys added their final two runs in the home half of the inning. Erica Sorg singled and advanced on a fielder's choice that saw Kali Quagliani out at first. A single by Ginther put Sorg on third, and Jackie Lenze, who was brought in as a courtesy runner for Ginther, later advanced to second on a passed ball. Wonderling flied out to left field and Sorg took off for home. The ball beat her to the plate, but she was able to slide safely in underneath the Clearfield catcher to extend St. Marys' lead. Keener singled and picked up an extra base on an error, allowing Lenze to score in the process. However, Keener was left stranded as Cunningham grounded out to the second baseman to end the inning with the Lady Dutch holding on to a 3-0 lead headed into the final inning.
After Hoffman's walk and Bowman's home run cut St. Marys' lead to 3-2 in the top of the seventh, Ginther struck out the next two batters and Lewis grounded out to the third baseman to preserve the St. Marys victory.
With the win, the Lady Dutch are now 15-4 on the season and will advance to play the top-seeded Punxsutawney Lady Chucks in the D9 AAA title game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Brockway Area High School. The St. Marys Area Flying Dutchmen baseball team will also be facing the Punxsutawney Chucks in the D9 AAA boys' baseball championship game at Brockway Area High school on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Andrea Butler 3-0-1, Melinda Owens 3-0-0, Rachel Hoffman 2-1-1, B.J. Bowman 3-1-1, Heather Picard 3-0-0, Lucy Kovalick 3-0-0, Tristan Lewis 3-0-1, Becca Byerly 1-0-0, Robyn McBride 1-0-0, Megan Vanderburgh 2-0-0, Mikayla Ebeling 0-0-0. Totals 24-2-4.
St. Marys 3
Erica Sorg 3-1-1, Kali Quagliani 3-0-0, Rachel Ginther 3-0-1, Cassie Wonderling 3-0-1, Cassie Daniels 0-0-0, Mia Keener 3-1-2, Raelyn Cunningham 3-0-1, Hayley McGowan 2-0-0, Taylor Bellina 2-0-1, Savanah Krivonyak 2-0-0, Kelsey Fritz 0-0-0, Jackie Lenze 0-1-0. Totals 24-3-7.
Score by innings R
Clearfield 000 000 2 2
St. Marys 010 002 x 3