HUNTINGDON - Huntingdon is more known for its baseball success than its softball success in the spring. The Bearcats have won six District 6 titles, a PIAA championship in 2000 and were state runners-up in 2004.
But the Lady Bearcats are having some success and re-writing the record books this season.
The second-seeded Lady Bearcats erupted for nine runs in the fourth inning, took advantage of nine hits and 10 walks against two Somerset pitchers and advanced to their first District 6 Class AAA championship game with a 13-4 win over the third-seeded Lady Eagles on a warm Thursday afternoon.
"It's exciting. First time in school history, and it's just wonderful to be a part of it," Huntingdon coach Chris Patrick said. "We knew we had a chance to get to that .500 mark to make the playoffs, and once playoffs started, anything could happen. We just knew in the games we showed up this year, we were tough to beat. Luckily, we showed up today."
"It's exciting. First time in a long time," junior Cheyanne Snyder said. "I thought it was possible [to make it to the finals]. We worked hard, and we deserved to make it."
The Lady Bearcats (11-7) will play Bellefonte, a 9-1 winner over Hollidaysburg in the other semifinal, on Wednesday at Penn State's Nittany Lion Softball Park.
The game was tied, 4-4, in the fourth inning when left-handed cleanup hitter Casey Baird, who along with Atalie Yingling had two hits, stepped to the plate with runners on second and third. Rather than walk Baird or pitch around her, Somerset's Stacey Geary pitched to her, and Baird doubled in Brionna Mort and Toni Strait. Mort scored three runs.
"You never know with a team that's so far away what they know," Patrick said. "I think they tried to sneak a changeup, and she re-cocked her hands and muscled one out there. It's tough to get a ball by her."
The next batter, pitcher Morgan Glover, who tossed a five-hitter, tripled to right and scored on a throwing error, knocking Geary out of the game.Two-run singles by Mort and Yingling and a run-scoring single by Kyra Shea followed as 12 batters came to the plate in the nine-run inning.
"That's huge," Patrick said. "It takes so much pressure off the defense and even the offense, and, suddenly, it gets the other team down. It's definitely huge for momentum. Not that you can relax, but you can play a little more aggressively out there."
"We've gotten a lot of runs in one inning before," Snyder said. "It raised up everybody's hopes."
"We played poorly," Somerset coach Craig Stinebiser said. "You've got to play hard in a big game, and we didn't make it happen."
Of the 10 Somerset walks, nine came in the first four innings for Huntingdon, showing its patience.
"We try to be aggressive on good pitches, but lay off and only hit our pitches," Patrick said. "We'll take walks whenever we can get them."
Huntingdon will now get ready for Bellefonte, which took advantage of errors in the fifth and beat Huntingdon, 11-1, earlier in the season.
"We've certainly got to get to work," Patrick said. "This is certainly not the end of our journey. This is just one step along the way."
SOMERSET (4): Acker c 401, Ream ss-p 300, Svonavec cf 300, J. Stinebiser 1b 301, Martin pr 000, Geary p-lf 300, Brock 3b 210, Talley lf-ss 211, Shaffer 2b 312, Overcash dp 110, A. Stinebiser ph 100, Will rf 000. Totals - 25-4-5.
HUNTINGDON (13): Mort c 331, Strait cf 221, Yingling rf 412, Baird 1b 322, Glover p 311, Nix cr 000, Snyder 3b 120, Spencer lf 211, Shea ss 411, Henney 2b 400. Totals - 26-13-9.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Somerset003 100 0- 4 5 1
Huntingdon202 900 X-13 9 2
E-Shaffer; Glover, Mort. 2B-Acker; Baird, Spencer. 3B-Glover. RBI-Acker 2, Ream; Yingling 3, Mort 2, Baird 2, Shea 2, Glover, Snyder, Spencer. SAC-Overcash; Strait. SF-Ream. SB-Brock; Shea, Mort, Strait. HBP-Snyder (by Geary). LOB-Somerset 4; Huntingdon 6. DP-Somerset.
Somerset: Geary (L)-3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 0 SO; Ream-2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 0 SO.
Huntingdon: Glover (W)-7 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO.
Records: Somerset (11-8); Huntingdon (11-7).