MARTINSBURG - Central softball coach Dale Walters wanted to take the first step to the top by beating Bald Eagle Area.
He took that step as the Lady Dragons advanced to the District 6 Class AA finals for the first time in school history after beating the Lady Eagles, 2-0, thanks to Kylie Gunnett's complete game shutout Thursday afternoon.
"For us, that is where we want to be," Walters said. "We want to have to beat Bald Eagle [Area] and Philipsburg-[Osceola]. For us, if you want to get to the top that is what you have to do. I am really excited for the girls."
Gunnett was perfect until she gave up a hit to opposing pitcher Megan Dudish in the top of the fifth inning. She gave up one more hit in the seventh inning.
"Best performance of the year, without a doubt," Walters said. "Her pitches were moving really well today which was a bonus. She was able to throw her changeup enough. She was able to throw enough strikes to keep hitters off balance. Best effort of the year. "
Gunnett fanned four Lady Eagles in the game. She gave up two hits and did not walk a batter.
"I just moved the ball around and kept them guessing," she said.
The junior forced 10 groundouts and Gunnett received help in the field from two diving catches from Kate Blattenberger out in center field.
"We played absolutely great defense," Gunnett said. "We knew that we had to play hard, and we really wanted it."
Central was held scoreless for the first three innings until the Lady Dragons broke things open in the fourth inning. Blattenberger hit a double but was caught stealing.
Gunnett then reached first, and Cassidi Barnes, courtesy running for Gunnett, scored on a Kassidy Snyder two-out single.
Central's Ashley Smith blasted a solo homer to left-center field in the following inning for a 2-0 lead.
Gunnett continued to dominate on the mound.
"I really think both teams in the beginning seemed like they were pressing. It was who was going to make the first mistake," BEA coach Kayleen Sidisky said. "They hit a few balls hard and I just think we never got comfortable. We were swinging too hard. We were swinging at some bad pitches. We could have hit the ball a a lot better."
The Lady Dragons will now play Philipsburg-Osceola, after the Lady Mounties' 6-1 win Thursday over Mount Union at Beard Field on May 30.
"We are just going to go hard," Gunnett said of the upcoming title game. "Our intensity is going to be sky high. I think if we just play our game, hit and play good defense, I think we will do good."
Central and P-O split during the season. The Lady Dragons won the first game, 6-4, while the Lady Mounties won the second game, 6-5.
"It's going to be a one run game because obviously they are very good," Walters said.
Bald Eagle Area finished the season at 12-8.
BALD EAGLE AREA (0): Poorman cf 300, Simpson 2b 300, Kolp dh 300, E. Peters c 301, Foster cr 000, Barnyak ss 300, Dudish p 201, Tobias 3b 200, Kresovich lf 200, M. Peters rf 2, Bennett 1b 000. Totals - 23-0-2.
CENTRAL (2): M. Snyder 2b 401, Garman c 402, Smith 3b 311, McKnight ss 301, Blattenberger cf 301, Gunnett p 200, Barnes cr 010, Mock lf 201, K. Snyder 302, J. Snyder 301. Totals -27-2-10.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Bald Eagle Area000 000 0-0 2 1
Central000 110 x-2 10 0
E-Tobais. 2B-Blattenberger. HR-Smith. RBI-Smtih, K. Snyder. WP-Gunnett. LP-Dudish. SO-Dudish 5, Gunnett 4. BB-Dudish 1.
Records: Bald Eagle Area (12-8); Central (17-5).