Lady Bulldogs avenge loss from last year’s final

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Claysburg-Kimmel players are all smiles after capturing the D6 1A softball championship at Saint Francis University.

LORETTO — After losing to Glendale in the District 6 Class 1A softball championship game last year, the Claysburg-Kimmel Lady Bulldogs had a definitive plan of attack when the two teams met in the district championship rematch Wednesday afternoon on the St. Francis University softball field.

Claysburg’s mission was to come out with aggression offensively, and the Lady Bulldogs executed the plan well, scoring six runs on five hits in the first inning en route to an 8-4 victory.

“We stressed that we wanted to jump on them quickly,” said Claysburg coach Mike Barbarini, whose program brought him its fourth district title under his direction by improving its season record to 18-4. “We talked about being very aggressive at the plate early in the count. We wanted to drive the first pitch that we saw, and we did that today.”

Top-seeded Claysburg sent 12 batters to the plate and chased talented Glendale junior right-handed starting pitcher Lexi Mulhollen with the six-run first-inning outburst.

The rally started when Raelynne Grabill drew a one-out walk, and moved to second base on Mikalynn Bauman’s two-run single. After Harleigh Cavender walked to load the bases, freshman third baseman Haileigh Reed bounced a two-run single up the middle to score both Grabill and Bauman.

“I think we came out strong and we hit the ball,” Reed said. “We were here to compete, and we were here to win.”

Designated hitter Madison Frye continued the rally by bouncing an infield hit to deep short that scored Cavender from third base and moved Reed to third. Reed then scored on Corryne Weyandt’s single to left field.

After Jazmine Kennedy walked to load the bases, Emily Claar singled to center field, scoring Frye from third base and Weyandt from second, and staking Claysburg to a 6-0 lead.

“Last year, we lost to them in districts, and we didn’t want it to happen again,” Claar said. “We played one of our better games today. We knew that we were the better team, and we wanted to win.”

Glendale coach Phil Barroner, whose second-seeded team dropped to 15-6, also pinpointed the first inning as crucial.

“The first inning was the whole ballgame,” Barroner said. “They came out and executed early, and that was the total difference in the game, in my mind.”

Even so, Glendale pulled to within 6-4 with two runs in both the second and third innings.

In the second, catcher Kristen Hewitt’s two-run triple scored Madison Lukehart, who had walked, and Breanna Vereshack, who had singled.

In the third, Madison Lukehart drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Olivia Reese, who had singled, from third base. Designated hitter Lilley Vereshack followed with an infield single to score Brooke Smeal from third base.

Claysburg kept Glendale at arm’s length with a run in the bottom of the third inning, courtesy of a double by Claar and an RBI double to left field by Madison Knisley, and the Lady Bulldogs added another run in the fifth inning, when Claar walked, stole second, and scored on Grabill’s double to left to help Claysburg bolster its lead to 8-4.

“There was no letup,” Claar said. “We knew that no matter how far ahead we got, they could always come back. We needed to remember that.”

Claysburg freshman right-handed pitcher Olivia Bushore tossed a strong game, allowing Glendale only six hits before departing with two runners on and no outs in the top of the seventh inning.

Knisley, a junior, came on in relief, and retired three batters in succession to preserve the win for Claysburg.

“From the beginning of the game, we were super enthused,” Claar said. “Everybody was hyped, and everybody was ready to go.”

Both Claysburg and Glendale move on to first-round PIAA Class 1A state playoff games Monday. Claysburg will play the District 4 runner-up at a site and time to be determined, while Glendale will meet the WPIAL champion.

“It’s obvious, but the key for us in the state tournament will be hitting the ball and pitching,” Barbarini said. “We’ll usually only be as strong as our pitching.”

GLENDALE (4): Hewitt cf 301, Mackenzie Lukehart cf 100, Mulhollen p-1b 210, Hamilton cr 010, A. Vereshack ss 400, Reese 2b 311, Smeal lf 401, Madison Lukehart rf 110, LeMaster 3b 000, L. Vereshack dh 402, B. Vereshack 1b-p 301, Ducio ph 100. Totals — 26-4-6.

CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (8): Claar ss 322, Grabill 2b 211, Knisley 1b-p 401, Mikenlee Bauman cr 000, Mikalyn Bauman cf 311, Cavender c 210, Reed 3b 412, Bushore p 000, Frye dh 311, Weyandt lf 311, Kennedy rf-1b 201, Hartman rf 000. Totals — 26-8-10.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Glendale 022 000 0–4 6 1

Claysburg-Kimmel 601 010 X–8 10 0

E–Hewitt. 2B–Claar, Knisley, Kennedy, Grabill. 3B–Hewitt. RBI–Hewitt 2, Madison Lukehart, L. Vereshack, Claar 2, Reed 2, Grabill, Knisley, Frye, Weyandt. LOB–Glendale 12, Claysburg-Kimmel 7. SAC–Makenzie Lukehart. SB–Claar. CS–Makenzie Lukehart (Cavender to Claar).

PITCHING

Glendale: Mulhollen (L) 2/3 IP, 5H, 6R, 6ER, 4BB, 0SO; B. Vereshack 5.1 IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 2SO.

Claysburg-Kimmel: Bushore (W) 6+IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 9BB, 5SO; Knisley 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO.

WP–Mulhollen, B. Vereshack.

Umpires: Plate–Randy Lose; First base–Rod Stine; Second base–Bob Ellis; Third base–Bill Raco.

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