Lady Eagles advance to final
CRESSON — It had been so long since the Tyrone Area High School softball team last earned a playoff win that no one in attendance was even aware of when the last postseason victory was.
But with a 7-2 District 6 Class 4A semifinal win against No. 2 Cambria Heights on Friday at Mount Aloysius College, the Golden Eagle faithful will not soon forget this one.
No. 3 Tyrone advanced to face Bellefonte in the 4A title game next Thursday.
“I know it’s been 15 years — at least,” Tyrone coach Doug Myers estimated on when the program last earned a playoff win. “I think it might have been 1996 or ’97. It’s been quite awhile. This is awesome. This was a goal of ours at the beginning of the season. We wanted to get into the playoffs and win. The kids played great today.”
The Golden Eagles were led by pitcher Cate Baran, who fanned 10, walked none and allowed only two hits in the complete game effort.
She retired all nine Cambria Heights batters to start the game and struck out eight of those nine. Karli Storm broke up Baran’s bid for a no-hitter with a double in the fifth.
“I was throwing a lot of curveballs and rise balls,” Baran said of what was working so well for her. “I was just going with my game. I knew the second time around (facing Heights) that I was going to have to be better than I was the first time because they already saw me once.”
At the plate, the top of the order did most of the damage for the Golden Eagles. Callie Maceno, who batted third behind Maci Brodzina and Baran, doubled to score two runs in the top of the first to open the scoring.
Brodzina added another run in the third and finished the afternoon with three runs.
In the seventh, Victoria Reese and Maecy Tuskovich added a pair of runs via a Cambria Heights error to increase the lead to seven.
“It was a total team effort. That was the best we hit all year,” Myers said. “We had some nice key hits, a sacrifice bunt. We had some good production from the bottom of our lineup, and if we can do that and have our top drive them in, that’s going to be very big for us.”
Cambria Heights tallied two runs with the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh. After Arianna Westrick and Abby Lobick both reached base via error, sophomore Emma Stockley doubled to drive home both runs.
Baran, however, was able to stifle the Highlanders’ momentum surge by striking out two to end the game.
“A little bit, but I thought we were able to hold up,” Baran said on if nerves kicked in at all once the Highlands gained some momentum. “I had to keep telling myself that we still have the lead, we just need those three more outs.”
Tyrone now shifts its focus to No. 4 Bellefonte, which upset top-seeded Greater Johnstown with a 7-0 rout on Thursday.
The Red Raiders are fueled by ace pitcher Lexi Rodgers.
“We have a tough game coming up against Bellefonte for the district title,” Myers said. “But to be here and just talking about competing for a district title is pretty exciting. We have to come out and hit, and we know Lexi is a tremendous pitcher — one of the top pitchers in our league. We got to come out focused. It’s going to be fun to be playing at Saint Francis, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
Friday’s game was the first game in 14 days for the Highlanders after two scrimmages over the past week were cancelled and the team failed to find a partner to scrimmage with before the postseason.
“We hung in there. We just had a slow start,” Cambria Heights coach Drew Thomas said. “I’m not making any excuses, but (the Laurel Highlands Conference) has to do something with these teams that are bailing out at the end of the year when it doesn’t factor in on their schedule. Hopefully, the conference can address that issue because we could not find anyone to play. We had games scheduled, and they were cancelled. I’m not making any excuses, but when you go two weeks without facing any live pitching, it’s tough.”
Cambria Heights will return 10 starters next year as Morgan Schreyer is the only senior departing the program.
“I just told the girls that I wish we could start back up again tomorrow,” Thomas said. “We’re going to keep the nucleus of the team together throughout the summer by doing some traveling and playing in some tournaments together. We hope to be back here again next year.”
TYRONE (7): Brodzina ss 332, Baran p 412, Maceno lf 413, Pearson 2b 401, Jones c 400, Grot cf 300, Reese 3b 311, Shaw 1b 200, Tuskovich rf 211. Totals 29-7-10.
CAMBRIA HEIGHTS (2): Jones cf-p 300, Westrick c 310, Stockley ss 301, Lobick p-cf 310, Storm 2b 301, McMullen 3b 300, Stiles lf 300, Schreyer rf 200, Rodgers dh 300, Bender dh 100. Totals 25-2-2.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Tyrone 201 001 3 — 3 10 2
Cambria Heights 000 000 2 — 2 2 2
E–Stockley, Schreyer, Shaw, Grot. 2B–Storm, Pearson. 3B–Stockley. RBI–Stockley 2, Maceno 2, Baran 2. SAC–Baran. WP–Baran. LP–Lobick. SO–Baran 10, Lobick 1, Jones 1. BB–Lobick 1, Jones 1.
Records: Tyrone (14-7); Cambria Heights (12-8).