BLOOMSBURG - Claysburg-Kimmel's Ronette Claar has spent the past four years in the pitching circle as the embodiment of her team's mascot - a bulldog.
Claar's tenacity on the field helped C-K win a district title in 2011 and got the Lady Bulldogs back to the PIAA playoffs this year.
Monday, the finality of the season, and her high school softball career, caught up with her.
The senior hurler couldn't hold back a stream of tears as she put away her bat and glove for the final time in a Claysburg uniform following a 4-0 loss to Northeast Bradford at Hutchinson Field in the first round of the Class A state playoffs.
"We panicked," Claar said. "We haven't been executing, and it showed. It's been a tough two games."
Claar was referring to the loss against unbeaten Northeast Bradford (22-0) and the Bulldogs' first setback after starting 22-0, a 2-0 defeat in nine innings to Bellwood-Antis in the District 6 title game.
Claysburg ended the season without scoring a run in its final 17 innings of play, dating back to a 7-0 semifinal victory in districts over Portage.
"We didn't even come close to scoring a run," Claysburg-Kimmel coach Mike Barbarini said. "We have young kids, but we've been able to manufacture runs all year on other teams. But we haven't hit anything back-to-back these past two games."
The Lady Bulldogs finished with three hits, all in different innings, and never got a runner past second against Northeast Bradford's Chelsie Souto.
Souto finished with 11 strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
"Chelsie did a great job today," Lady Panthers coach Gary Hennip said. "She was really sound except for a couple moments where she got nervous, but she got through that and pitched really well."
Kala Brumbaugh had an infield single with one out for the Lady Bulldogs in the top of the first inning. Brumbaugh stole second, but Souto retired Lydia Fleck and Hannah Claycomb to snuff out the threat.
Claar walked Calla Martin - the only walk by either pitcher in the game - to lead off the bottom of the inning. After a sacrifice bunt, two passed balls allowed Martin to score the game's first run and give Northeast Bradford an early advantage.
"Our whole strategy was to come out and get ahead of them," Barbarini said. "They scored in that first inning, and then we never got anything going on the bases."
The Lady Panthers added two more runs in the third with a pair of two-out hits. Makaylah Hobert drove home Madison Johnson with an RBI single, stole second and then scored on Haylie Phillips' double.
"We put the ball in play," Hennip said. "After scoring early there, we felt a little bit more comfortable, and we bunted the ball very well. To do that against an excellent pitcher like [Claar] is really a credit to our hitters."
Fleck led off the top of the fourth with a single, but she was the final baserunner Souto allowed.
The loss was the final high school game for Claar, Fleck and Mandy Echard.
"Ronette has meant a lot to our program," Barbarini said. "Over the past couple years, she built our program up there where it is today along with some of her teammates like Lydia and Mandy, but we'll be back."
The Lady Bulldogs, who finished 22-2, will return seven starters from Monday's lineup next season.
"I had a good four years, and a lot of that credit should go to the coaching staff," Claar said. "They're a great coaching staff, and they run our team really well. The [underclassmen] should be OK. They just will have to work hard."
CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (0): Claar p 301, Brumbaugh cf 301, Fleck ss 301, Claycomb 3b 300, Ickes 2b 300, LeMaster dp 200, Echard 1b 100, Cox c 200, Kulick lf 200, Ritchey rf 200. Totals 24-0-3
NORTHEAST BRADFORD (4): Martin ss 210, Hobert 3b 211, Phillips rf 301, Carlsen 1b 300, Emick c 311, Mosier lf 200, Brown pr 000, Souto p 200, Coleman cr 000, Goodwin 201, Johnson cf 311. Totals 22-4-6
Score by innings
Claysburg-Kimmel000 000 0 0 3 1
Northeast Bradford102 001 X 4 6 1
E-Emick, Fleck. 2B-Phillips. 3B-Emick. RBI-Hobert, Phillips, Mosier. WP-Souto. LP-Claar. SO-Souto 11, Claar 7. BB-Claar 1.
Umpires: Marty Maurer (HP), Joe Brown, Stewart Rockwell, Rich Knecht
Records: Claysburg-Kimmel (22-2); Northeast Bradford (22-0).