MORRISDALE - The Bellwood-Antis softball team has gone where no team in program history has gone before.
The Lady Blue Devils have accomplished almost everything coach Jim Payne could ask for, but there was one thing they couldn't do this season - beat West Branch.
The Lady Warriors ended the Lady Blue Devils' Cinderella run through the District 6 Class A playoffs one win shy of the finals, as pitcher Jada Larson continued her mastery of Bellwood-Antis in a 9-1 win on Thursday.
Larson limited the Lady Blue Devils to just two hits in the contest - both of which came off the bat of center fielder Emily Nagle. The West Branch hurler issued one walk and struck out 11.
''West Branch has our number,'' Payne said. ''They're well prepared and they're a good hitting team. ... They stayed back and hit the curveballs, which, typically, they don't. West Branch has it on us, but hopefully we can come back and be in this position next year.''
After losing by a combined 24-2 score in the regular season meetings, Bellwood-Antis took advantage of Larson's first-inning struggles. The Lady Blue Devils (13-10) had runners on second and third with one out, but couldn't come up with a hit to push the first run across.
After allowing an infield single to Nagle, Larson was in command. She retired 14 straight before issuing a free pass to Jayme Fraser to open the sixth.
Fraser went on to score, but West Branch already had a comfortable 7-run cushion.
''We tell the girls that every game there's somebody who has to make a play,'' Payne said. ''If we get a hit [in the first], maybe we would have thrown her game off a little bit. I think a single there would have really [made a difference].''
Larson and Bethany Kopchik smacked back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the sixth to set the final score. The Lady Warriors had every starter record at least one hit against Bellwood-Antis pitcher Taylor Payne, who allowed 14.
Payne finished the game with eight strikeouts and walked just two.
''If you let a team get on the board and get some momentum,'' West Branch coach Jerry White said. ''You never know what's going to happen. ... Every single at-bat is important. To be totally honest, I wasn't totally comfortable when we were up 7-0. This is the playoffs and anything can happen.''
The Lady Warriors (15-7), the tournament's fifth seed, will face second-seeded Claysburg-Kimmel for the third time this season on Wednesday with the District 6 title on the line.
The teams split the regular season series.
''[Larson] was on her game today,'' coach Payne said. ''We were counting for her not to be. Her and Ronette [Claar] are neck and neck in this, and it's going to make for a good district final. They're going to play a good game, I believe.''
Bellwood-Antis (1): Hamer ss 100, McVicker 2b 300, Nagle cf 302, Shawley 1b 300, Heuston 1b 000, Payne p 200, Davensizer lf 100, Parsons lf 100, Andrekovich lf 100, Donahue c 300, Snyder rf 200, Fraser 3b 110, Patton 3b 000. Totals: 21-1-2.
West Branch (9): Couteret lf 311, Albright cf 411, Bell 2b 412, Kopchik ss 422, Larson p 422, MeK. Ahlberg 1b 412, MeL. Ahlberg 3b 312, Reams c 301, Croyle dp 201, Ceprish (flex) rf 000. Totals: 31-9-14.
Score by Innings
Bellwood-Antis000 001 0-1 2 2
West Branch121 302 x-9 14 0
E-Payne, Parsons. LOB-Bellwood-Antis 3, West Branch 6. DP-Bellwood-Antis 1, West Branch 1. 2B-Kopchik, Larson. HR-Kopchik, Larson. RBI-Nagle, Bell 2, Kopchik 2, Larson, MeK. Ahlberg, Reams, Croyle. SAC-Hamer. SB-Couteret, Albright. HBP-Hamer, Payne (by Larson). WP-Larson 1.
Bellwood-Antis: Payne-6 IP, 14 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO.
West Branch: Larson-7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO.
Records: Bellwood (13-10); West?Branch (15-7)