Claysburg-Kimmel falls short in semis

MILESBURG — Claysburg-Kimmel pitcher Olivia Bushore took a deep sigh of relief after escaping a jam with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the third inning.

Just four pitches later, she was back out in the hot sun under pressure again.

This time, with two outs, Williams Valley’s Grace Hoffman got to Bushore with a two-run double that proved to be the difference in a 6-1 triumph over the Lady Bulldogs in the PIAA Class 1A semifinals Monday.

“I was thinking that (it was a tough turnaround for Bushore),” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Mike Barbarini said. “I’m like, ‘geez we swung at the first pitch two batters in a row there,’ and it’s probably tough on her to go back out there so quick. We had to swing at pitches we thought were strikes, and we did, we just didn’t square enough up.”

Claysburg-Kimmel put runners in scoring position in four of the seven innings but got its leadoff hitter on just once.

That one time came all the way back in the first inning when Emily Claar drew a walk and went to second on a bunt by Raelynne Grabill. But she didn’t just go to second. The speedy junior never hesitated and tried to take third, but the throw barely beat her to the bag.

Williams Valley pitcher Stevie Unger got out of the inning unscathed, unlike in the PIAA quarterfinals when the Lady Vikings were forced to battle out of a 4-0 hole.

“It was big to get out of the first inning and cut the momentum off,” Williams Valley coach Randy Underkoffler said. “Especially with how we started the last game, that was big to get out of that situation.”

Bushore escaped another bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth inning, but after another quick half inning by the Lady Bulldog offense, she ran into trouble in the sixth. Four of the first five Williams Valley batters singled to bring in two runs, and two more scored on an error.

“They knew they could work the pitcher and get the hits when they needed to,” Underkoffler said. “Sometimes you don’t get the clutch hit when you want to, but they had the confidence from getting on and knew they could hit the girl. It was just a matter of time until they came through.”

Claysburg got three straight singles after Unger got the first out of the seventh inning but managed just one run on Grabill’s RBI groundout.

“We got behind too much,” Barbarini said. “If it was still 2-0 and we got that rally, we may have had some more confidence and put more pressure on them.”

Harleigh Cavender and Jazmin Kennedy each had two hits for C-K, which finished with just six for the game. Mya Achenbach went 3-for-3 for Williams Valley.

The Lady Bulldogs finished the season 19-5 with a District 6 championship under their belt, something that had eluded them a year ago.

“Every year we kept improving,” Grabill said. “We set goals every year. Last year we made it to the final eight, and this year we wanted to go further. We did just that, and I’m so happy for the team stepping up. To get to the final four meant a lot.

“For the two seniors this year, not making it the whole way is heartbreaking, but I wish the best of luck to the team coming back next year. They have a great future.”

Claysburg-Kimmel loses Grabill and fellow senior Mikalynn Bauman from its district championship team.

“It’s a memory I’ll always hold with me,” Grabill said. “We’re a team that always fought back. We always came from behind. We tried this game, but we came up a little short. It’s hard to get through, but knowing we captured that District 6 championship is a good feeling.”

Barbarini said both seniors helped leave the C-K program in good shape.

“Our seniors gave us everything they had for four years,” Barbarini said. “They helped us get to where we have been and did a lot for the success of the program. They taught the younger girls how to be successful and how to succeed.”

Claysburg-Kimmel finished just one game short of matching the best performance in school history. The Lady Bulldogs have never won a PIAA softball championship but made it to the final before losing in 2014.

With the majority of this year’s team returning, the goals are already big for next season.

“Our group of juniors are going to be tough,” Barbarini said. “They will be a tough out. I told them they just have to work harder next year and get better. Hopefully we can go one step further.”

CLAYSBURG-KIMMEL (1): Claar ss 201, Grabill 2b 300, Knisley 1b 400, Bauman cf 300, Cavender c 302, Reed 3b 300, Frye dp 300, Weyandt lf 311, Kennedy rf 302, Bushore p (flex) 000. Totals — 27-1-6.

WILLIAMS VALLEY (6): Whitcomb lf 211, Achenbach cf 313, Unger p 400, Bordner 1b 301, M. Ferron pr 010, DuBois dp 200, Rabuck dp 200, K. Ferron ss 301, Updegrove rf 212, Stroup pr 010, Hoffman c 302, Shoop cr 010, Neiman 2b 100, Crisswell cr-ph 100, Bogle 3b (flex) 000. Totals — 26-6-10.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Claysburg-Kimmel 000 000 1 — 1 6 2

Williams Valley 000 204 X — 6 10 2

E–Bushore, Reed, Unger, Bogle. 2B–Cavender, Updegrove, Hoffman. RBI–Grabill; Whitcomb, Achenbach, Hoffman 2.

PITCHING

Claysburg-Kimmel: Bushore (L)–6 IP, 10H, 0K, 6BB, 6R, 4ER, 90 pitches.

Williams Valley: Unger (W)–7 IP, 6H, 4K, 2BB, 1R, 1ER, 107 pitches.

Records: Claysburg-Kimmel (19-5); Williams Valley (23-2).

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