By Rick Weaver
For The Mirror
NORTHERN CAMBRIA - After spotting Homer-Center an 8-3 lead in the third inning, Northern Cambria rallied to eke out a 17-15 victory over the Wildcats in a District 6 Class A softball playoff game on Monday at the Northern Cambria Youth Recreation South Complex.
The third-seeded Colts (16-5) will face Claysburg-Kimmel in a semifinal game on Thursday. Homer-Center, which lost all three meetings with Northern Cambria, finished the year 8-6.
"I knew this was going to be a lot tougher game, with [us] having to play them a third time," Northern Cambria coach Paul Artley said.
Miriah Butterworth started for the Colts and lasted only 1 innings. She was relieved by Bre Sabella after giving up a second two-run homer to Katelyn Skinner.
"It was one of those days where our starting pitcher did not have her stuff today," Artley said. "Sabella really came on big for us."
Skinner's first homer helped stake the Wildcats to a 3-0 lead. She went 4-for-4 with seven RBIs.
The Colts answered with two of their own, however, suggesting this would be a long day for the pitchers.
"I was hoping we could hold them to a zero every once in a while, and it just didn't seem to happen," Homer-Center coach Randy Thomas.
Sabella prevented the Wildcats from turning the game into a rout, and gave her team a chance to seize control. Shawna Serafin hit a three-run homer in the third off Beth Ann Maggio, highlighting a four-run uprising that sliced the deficit to 8-7. Serafin finished with four RBIs.
"That was big," Artley said. "Our seniors, Serafin and Lauren Ashurst had big games for us. [Ashurst] had key hits for us."
"It was a struggle to get back in the game," Sabella said. "But we just put our hearts into it and got back into [it]."
Sabella was also aided by catcher Lauren Prasko, who picked off two runners at third base and caught two more stealing at second.
"[We had] a couple of base-running errors that cost us runs," Thomas said.
Ashurst, Serafin, Becky Britton and Sabella each went 3-for-5. Ashurst, Serafin and Britton drove in three runs apiece.
Run-scoring doubles by Serafin, Giana Butterworth and Miriah Butterworth in the fourth capped off a nine-run outburst that staked the Colts to a 16-8 lead.
Sabella struck out four and walked two. She yielded four runs in the seventh but struck out Devan Townley with the tying run on deck to end the game.
Homer-Center (8-6): Rura ss 433, Skinner c 424, Dawson 1b 510, Bernat lf 513, Jones 3b 310, Omasta cf 300, Townley 2b 310, Ireland dp 422, Gorton rf 402, Maggio p 000. Totals 36-15-17
Northern Cambria (16-5): Britton cf 533, Perrone lf 000, Sabella dp-p 533, G.Butterworth 3b 422, M.Butterworth p-dp 532, Ashurst lf-rf 513, Serafin 1b 523, Kollar 2b 221, K.Lieb 2b 200, Lecorchick ss 301, Parsko c 210, Frontini cf-rf 000. Totals 38-17-18
SCORE BY INNINGS
Homer-Center332 030 4 - 15 17 6
Northern Cambria214 901 x - 17 18 6
2B-Serafin, G.Butterworth, M.Butterworth, Ashurst. HR-Skinner 2, Serafin. RBI-Skinner 7, Dawson 2, Bernat, Omasta 2, Gorton, Britton 3, Sabella 3, G. Butterworth, M. Butterworth, Ashurst 3, Serafin 4. SB-Rura, Skinner, Bernat, M. Butterworth. SH-Omasta, Lecorchick, G. Butterworth. SF-Skinner.
Maggio (L) 6 IP, 17 H, 17 R, 13 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Northern Cambria pitching
M.Butterworth 1.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
Sabella (W) 5.2 IP 11 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K