Wildcats explode to end Tigers’ season

MILL HALL — Central Mountain’s slight 2-1 lead had coach Fred Caldwell uneasy. His team was in a competitive contest with two-win Hollidaysburg, but the coach knew the Golden Tigers’ record wasn’t reflective of their attitude.

“I’m always worried,” Caldwell said of the early 1-run lead. “But I told our girls when Hollidaysburg was warming up that they don’t look like a two-win team. They looked much better than that. I don’t want to say we took them for granted, but by the fourth inning, our offense kicked in.”

Central Mountain exploded for five runs in the third. It totaled another four in the fifth to drop Hollidaysburg, 11-1, in five innings and advance to next Wednesday’s district championship versus the DuBois Beavers.

“I thought the game went well,” Caldwell said. “We started off a little bit slow, and we didn’t really come along until the fourth inning. But in the fourth and fifth inning we started hitting the ball and playing like we should’ve been playing.”

Central Mountain’s impressive day at the plate aided them in the win. It out-hit Hollidaysburg, 14-4, with each batter recording a hit on the day. Autumn Dershem led Central Mountain with a pair of hits and team-high three RBIs, while Morgan Wetzel notched another pair of hits and an RBI.

Madison Knepp had three strikeouts and scattered four hits in a complete-game performance. Her only blip of the game was the lone run allowed in the opening inning.

“Madi’s been great all year,” Caldwell said. “She’s gotten stronger as the year went on and she’s been great.”

Alyssa Fisher’s play at second highlighted a strong-defensive afternoon. Her highlight effort of the game was a diving grab to rob Trinity Molliver of a base hit in the third.

“Alyssa played her heart out at second base,” Caldwell said. “The two diving attempts, and keeping the ball in the infield, were just fantastic plays. You can’t ask any more of a player than that.”

The Golden Tigers recorded half of their four hits in the opening inning. Meghan Cutshall cracked a lead-off double, setting up Trinity Molliver’s RBI groundout to put Hollidaysburg ahead, 1-0. Central Mountain responded with a pair of runs in the back half of the inning — but the Golden Tigers kept the game competitive to trail just 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth.

“Everybody believes in themselves and we just have a great group of girls,” Hollidaysburg coach Heather Perry said of the game’s early competitiveness. “We were just ready to go out there and prove something today.”

Central Mountain’s offense woke up in the fourth. Knepp smacked an RBI double to extend CM’s lead, 3-1, before Madalyn Bechdel’s two-run double stretched the lead to 5-1. Wetzel and Dershem finished the inning’s scoring with back-to-back RBI hits to advance CM’s lead, 7-1.

“Going through the lineup twice, and getting a couple of looks at the pitcher, helped us to begin scoring in that inning,” Caldwell said. “Their pitcher had a different delivery than what we’re used to, and a couple of girls commented that it was throwing their timing off just a little bit.”

CM put the game away in the fifth with a four-run two-out rally. Alyssa Fisher commenced the scoring with an RBI single to widen the lead, 8-1. Later in the inning Dershem supplied her third RBI of the evening, which set up Riley Houser’s game-ending two-run single to seal the win for Wildcats, 11-1.

Hollidaysburg ended 2019 with just a pair of wins– but Perry said the team experienced success in their primary-goal, which was to elevate its play as the season progressed.

“I preach everyday for us to get better,” Perry said. “So as the season went on everyday we worked to improve and get better. We did that and we’re excited for what we have coming next season.”

SCORE BY INNINGS

Hollidaysburg 100 00X X–1 4 2

Central Mountain 200 54X X–11 14 0

2B–M. Wetzel, K. Wagner, M. Knepp, A. Schultz, M. Bechdel (CM); M. Cutshall (H). Multiple hits–M. Cutshall 2 (H); A. Fisher 2, C. Watson 2, M. Wetzel 2, A. Dershem 2, A. Shultz 2 (CM). WP–Madison Knepp. LP–Fox-Kern. SO–Knepp 2, Fox-Kern 2. BB–Knepp 0, Fox-Kern 3.

Records: Hollidaysburg (3-14); Central Mountain (11-9)

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