JOHNSTOWN - Hollidaysburg rebounded from a disastrous seven-run rally in the fifth inning by scoring six of its own in the top of the sixth as it held off Johnstown, 9-7, in a District 6 Class AAA semifinal softball playoff game on Thursday.
The fourth-seeded Golden Tigers will play Bellefonte for the district championship on Wednesday Penn State's Beard Field, while Johnstown, the No. 1 seed, finished the year 13-5.
Hannah Mercer's two-run double off of reliever Madison McKee made a winner of Alyssa Pheasant. The sophomore right-hander struck out five and walked only one.
"She pitched very well. She did a great job," Hollidaysburg coach Dennis Carter said. "She's always in or around the strike zone, she gives up very few walks. She's a very smart girl. ... She's still just learning to pitch."
"She put in a lot of work in the offseason," Mercer said. "And being only a sophomore she improves literally, I think, every single game. She has been awesome all year. I'm honored to be her teammate."
Carter said the Tigers' rally marked a departure from the form of recent years.
"I attribute [the rally] to them fighting hard," Carter said. "It's something they haven't done the last few years. They would have that one bad inning and stay down."
Mercer agreed with Carter about the biggest difference between last year's team and this year's.
"Last year, we would have just fallen through. Basically, [we would have said], 'You know what? It's over. We're done.' " she said. "But this year our team is different because we've matured. We've become more confident."
Hollidaysburg watched a 3-0 lead change to a 7-3 deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning. Amber Maurer's grand slam home run put the Trojans ahead, 4-3. A run-scoring double by McKee and Melissa Gosnell's RBI single completed the rally.
The Golden Tigers (10-9) parlayed three hits, two walks, two wild pitches and two errors into a six-run outburst that put them ahead for good.
"We booted the ball a couple of times at the wrong times," Johnstown manager Randy Romesberg said. "You can't give a team four or five outs in an inning."
Mercer, who had singled in Pheasant for Hollidaysburg's first run in the first inning, doubled in Pheasant and Elizabeth Carter to stake the Tigers to an 8-7 lead.
Mercer also helped Pheasant in the sixth inning when made a sliding catch on the wet grass in foul ground to snare a pop fly by Maurer.
Hollidaysburg (9): Pheasant p 532, Carter 3b 310, Shay dp 412, Rosensteel 2b 000, Mercer ss 413, Beaudoin rf 300, Herr c 401, Stubbs cf 412, Civils lf 220, Sheehan 1b 200, Totals 31-9-10.
Johnstown (7): Bicko ss 311, Maurer 2b 412, Teeter 411, Lindrose p-c 412, Scczur cf 401, McKee c-p 411, Gosnell lf 401, McLintock 3b 311, Staicer rf 310,Totals 33-7-10.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Hollidaysburg120 006 0 - 9 10 3
Johnstown000 070 0 - 7 10 4
LOB-Hollidaysburg 8, Johnstown 5. 2B-Mercer, Staicer. HR-Maurer. RBI-Maurer 4, Mercer 3, Shay 2, Pheasant, Herr, McKee, Gosnell. SH-Sheehan 2, Beaudoin, Staicer.
Hollidaysburg: Pheasant (W) 7 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
Johnstown: Lindrose 5 1-3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. McKee (L) 1 2-3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
Umpires- Home, Roy Afer; First, Rich Speicher; Third, Lesley Miller.