Lady Devils take down Rockets for ICC title
BELLWOOD – The Bellwood-Antis softball team has a list of goals it wanted to accomplish this season.
Winning the Inter-County Conference championship was one of those goals.
Check it off.
Led by another gem from pitcher Taylor Payne, and timely offensive production, the Lady Blue Devils blanked Southern Huntingdon, 5-0, to claim the ICC crown Tuesday afternoon.
“It was a goal. We’ve staggered our goals this year,” Bellwood-Antis coach Jim Payne said. “We just want to continue to progress and build.
“We got this championship, which is big for us, and now we want to move on to the district playoffs and see if we can surprise a few people.”
The Devils looked like a team primed for the postseason from the very beginning, and it was the defense that provided the spark.
Southern Huntingdon’s Molly Detwiler opened the game with a single up the middle. After a Kelsey Jenkins strikeout, McKenna Garlock lifted a ball to deep right-center field.
But Bellwood right fielder Taylor Shildt tracked down the shot and made a tough running catch.
Detwiler, who thought the ball was going to find the gap, never tagged and was easily doubled-up to end the inning.
“I think that was the big play,” Coach Payne said. “We say every game that there’s one play that will make it or break it. That one just happened really early.
“That was a nice catch. [Shildt is] a freshman. She’s done a nice job for us. We’ve been playing a little deeper this late in the season. They are a good-hitting team, so we just wanted to back up a little bit. That put her in a position to make a play and she did it.”
The Lady Blue Devils (18-2) responded with big offensive innings in the second, third and fourth en route to an 11-hit day.
Emily Nagle capped off her two-hit, two-RBI night with a two-run single in the fourth inning to score Laycee Clark and Scarlett Kirkpatrick. Shildt and Anna Wolfe each had a pair of hits, and Clark and Lauren Snyder drove in runs with sacrifice flies in the second and third innings, respectively.
“We practice it and we want them to do their job,” Payne said of his team’s ability to manufacture runs. “You can’t be striking out. You have to put the ball in play. When you need to lift the ball to get the run home, that’s what your job is – you lift the ball and get the run home.”
Taylor Payne doubled and scored on Shildt’s RBI single to give Bellwood-Antis a 2-0 lead in the second, but the senior had a bigger night from the circle striking out 12 and walking none in the five-hit shutout.
“I felt really good,” Payne said. “I got a good night’s sleep. I just pitched well. I’ve been conditioning a little more and I just felt really good today.”
“They really hit the ball well today,” said Southern Huntingdon coach Terri Lessley, whose team enters the District 6 Class A playoffs as the second seed with a 16-3 record. “We’re usually a good-hitting team, but Payne – she’s a good pitcher. It’s no excuse, but we haven’t played in nine days, too. I think that kind of left us flat for one reason.”
Bellwood-Antis will try to take its momentum into the District 6 Class AA playoffs when the fifth-seeded Blue Devils host 12th-seeded Westmont Hilltop on Thursday.
“It definitely means a lot because it shows we can compete at a high level and we can hit good pitching,” Taylor Payne said of winning the ICC championship. “It really means a lot helping us get ready for districts.”
The Lady Devils won the Class A district title last season and will have their work cut out for them if want to add more hardware to the trophy case with perennial contenders like Central and Philipsburg-Osceola in the tournament field.
“We embraced the underdog role last year,” Jim Payne said. “I don’t know if we still have it, but if we do, we’ll take it. We’re just going to go out and play our game and see what we can do to surprise some of those powerhouse teams.”
SOUTHERN HUNTINGDON (0): Detwiler lf 301, Jenkins ss 300, Garlock c 300, Leonard 3b 302, Kern 1b 200, King rf 300, Sheeder cf 301, Zinobile p 201, Brodbeck p 000, Goshorn 2b 200. Totals – 24-0-5.
BELLWOOD-ANTIS (5): Wolfe 2b 412, Nagle cf 402, Finn c 401, Harris cr 000, Snyder ss 311, Payne p 311, Decker 1b 301, Wright pr 000, Clark 3b 111, Shildt rf 302, Kirkpatrick lf 210. Totals – 27-5-11.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Southern Huntingdon000 000 0 – 0 5 0
Bellwood-Antis021 200 X – 5 11 0
DP-Bellwood-Antis 1. LOB-Southern Huntingdon 4, Bellwood-Antis 8. 2B-Leonard, Payne. RBI-Nagle 2, Snyder, Clark, Shildt. SF-Snyder, Clark. SAC-Kern. SB-Sheeder.
Southern Huntingdon-Zinobile (L), 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO; Brodbeck, 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
Bellwood-Antis-Payne (W), 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 SO.
Records: Southern Huntingdon (16-3); Bellwood-Antis (18-2).