BEA has too much offense for Ridge

By John Hartsock

jhartsock@altoonamirror.com

LORETTO — It’s been said often, and it’s probably true, that pitching and defense wins championships in baseball and softball.

But putting together a potent batting attack like the one that the Bald Eagle Area High School softball team showed off Friday evening can certainly play a significant role as well.

Second-seeded BEA jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and rapped out 15 hits en route to a 9-5 victory over top-seeded Chestnut Ridge in the District 5-6 Class 3A championship game on the Saint Francis University softball field.

Both teams advance to the PIAA Class 3A state playoffs Monday, but BEA will do so as a district champion, thanks to a 4-for-4 batting performance and four RBIs from sophomore left fielder McKenna Baney, two hits and three RBIs from catcher-designated hitter Maralee Caldana, and three hits apiece from shortstop Madison Perry and center fielder Mara Hockenberry, who also drove in a run.

“Our batting order, from one to nine, all does good,” said Baney, who drove in two runs with a clutch sixth-inning double, another with a second-inning single, and another with a bunt single in the fourth inning. “I think (the district championship) is an accomplishment for us. It’s what we’ve been looking forward to. But now we have a bigger (goal) ahead of us.”

Bald Eagle Area had a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning Friday, and both teams felt that BEA was able to grab the momentum early.

Caldana’s two-run double off the fence in center field staked BEA to a 2-0 lead by scoring Baney, who had led off the game with a single, and Hockenberry, who had bunted safely for a single.

“Scoring in the first inning was huge,” said Bald Eagle Area coach Don Lucas, whose team hiked its season record to 19-3. “That put added pressure on them.”

The pressure intensified when BEA added two runs in the second inning when right fielder Madison Eckley’s infield single scored shortstop Madison Perry, who had led off the inning with a single, and Baney’s single to right field scored Eckley, who had stolen second base.

BEA made it 5-0 in the fourth inning when Eckley singled, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored from third on Baney’s bunt single.

Ridge senior shortstop Makayla Weyant and senior center fielder Lydia Mock, who both hit home runs to spark Ridge’s attempted comeback, both felt that their team lacked a spark early in the game.

“We were not on our ‘A’ game today,” Mock said. “I think we need to prepare for the state playoffs.”

Weyant felt that the Ridge team got behind the eight-ball early.

“I think we saw (Bald Eagle Area’s) excitement, and we came out a little too flat,” Weyant said. “They kept hitting, hitting, hitting, and they never stopped.”

Ridge kept up a good fight, though, scoring a run in the fourth inning on Weyant’s homer to deep center off BEA sophomore winning pitcher Madison Peters, who allowed only six hits in a complete-game pitching effort.

Ridge added two runs in the fifth inning to draw to within 5-3, with senior third baseman Kayla Diehl’s two-run triple to the right-center field fence scoring sophomore Lauren Calhoun, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, and Mock, who had reached on a throwing error, from third and second base, respectively.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, our girls are going to fight until the end, there is no quit in them,” said Ridge coach Greg Lazor. “We just got a litttle too far behind, and (Bald Eagle Area is) good with the bats and they do a lot of little things really well.

“They’re an extremely well-coached team, and they were the better team today,” Lazor said.

BEA cemented the win with a four-run sixth inning. Baney’s double off the fence in right-center off Ridge starting pitcher Atlanta Milliron was the big hit, following singles by Perry and second baseman Kaleigh Kinley, who had both singled. Perry scored from third and Brynne Bisel, a courtesy runner for Kinley, scored from second on Baney’s clutch hit.

“It was an outside pitch, maybe a curve ball, and I knew by the way it came off the bat that it was going to the outfield,” Baney said.

Diehl was brought on to relieve Milliron, and Hockenberry greeted her with a double down the left field line that scored Baney. Hockenberry stole third, and scored on Caldana’s single to left field to complete BEA”s four-run inning and make it a 9-3 game.

Ridge scored two runs in the seventh when first baseman Samantha Baney doubled and came home on Mock’s homer over the left field fence.

Ridge faces District 9 champion Clearfield in the first round of the PIAA playoffs at 3 p.m. Monday at Heindl Field in DuBois, while BEA plays WPIAL third-place finisher South Park at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Penn State University’s Beard Field at Lion Softball Park.

“We have to brush this one off and get ready for states,” Lazor said. “Hopefully, we’ll have four more games to go.”

BALD EAGLE AREA (9): M. Baney lf 424, Hockenberry cf 323, Caldana c-dh 302, Hilgar cr 000, Peters p 300, King dh-c 400, Tobias 3b 400, Perry ss 423, Kinley 2b 301, Bisel cr 010, Eckley rf 322, Fisher 1b 000. Totals — 31-9-15.

CHESTNUT RIDGE (5): Mock cf 431, Diehl 3b-p 401, Z. Dunlap cr-3b-2b 100, Weyant ss-3b 311, Milliron p-1b 200, Mishler cr 000, Emerick rf 300, Wingard 2b 300, A. Dunlap c 302, S. Baney 1b 311, Gibbner lf 100, Calhoun ph 110. Totals — 28-5-6.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Bald Eagle Area 220 104 0–9 15 2

Chestnut Ridge 000 120 2–5 6 2

E–Tobias, Kinley, Diehl, Wingard. 2B–M. Baney, Hockenberry, Caldana, S. Baney. 3B–Diehl. HR–Mock, Weyant. SB–Eckley 2, Hockenberry. SAC–Eckley, Hockenberry, Kinley. LOB–Bald Eagle Area 6, Chestnut Ridge 4.

PITCHING

BALD EAGLE AREA: Peters (W) 7IP, 5R, 3ER, 6SO, 2BB.

CHESTNUT RIDGE: Milliron (L) 5•IP, 12H, 8R, 7ERm, 2SO, 1BB; Diehl 1ªIP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1SO, 0BB.

WP–Milliron 2, Diehl. PB–A. Dunlap 2.

Records: Bald Eagle Area (19-3); Chestnut Ridge (19-4).

Umpires: Tom Culp, Sr. (plate); Dave Fyock (1B); Tracy Cornelius (2B); Craig Yohn (3B).

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