By Pete Chiodo
The Maplewood softball team nearly got that complete seven-inning effort it’s been striving for all season long. But it still wasn’t enough to keep up with undefeated Fairview, which bounced the ’Wood from the District 10 Class AA quarterfinals with an 8-1 verdict on Tuesday at Penn State-Behrend.
“I think Fairview was a little bit surprised with how good a team we can be,” said Maplewood head coach Hannah Parker. “Like I said (Monday) we needed to show up as a team for seven whole innings and we didn’t do that. But I’m very proud of the way that they did play for the four innings we did do that. And I’m proud of the fact that they went out there and gave me 100 percent. It was not a bad way to go out at all.”
Maplewood ends its season with a record of 9-6.
Fairview improves to 20-0 and will now head to the D-10 semifinals to face Titusville, a 3-1 winner over North East yesterday.
“I was pleased with the way we played today,” said Fairview head coach Anita Deloe. “There are a few things that we need to fix up as we go along ... but the kids played really well.”
Maplewood knew it had a tough task against Fairview pitcher Raven Rozantz, who came into the game with an 18-0 record and a 0.87 ERA.
However, ’Wood jumped right on Rozantz in the first inning. Emily Merritt led off the frame by beating out a single to third base. Molly Bernoski sacrificed Merritt over to second. And Caitlin Hartman drove Merrit home with a two-out single through the left side.
That one-run advantage held up through the first three innings. Maplewood pitcher Taylor Smith held Fairview to one single during that span.
“Taylor Smith pitched a great game,” said Parker. “We had some issues with some off-speed stuff. And when that happens, and you have to throw them fastballs, by the next time they see her they’re going to start ripping them.”
Sure enough, the second time through its lineup Fairview struck.
Fairview opened the fourth inning with four straight base hits, including an RBI double by Kayla Kupniewski, and a two-run single from Aubree Martin. Hannah Rossman added another run-scoring single with two outs.
By the time the inning was over, Fairview was in front 4-1.
“We know that we have strong bats,” said Deloe. “Our goal is to win every inning. But if they go out there and they hit the ball and it’s going right to people, like some of those line drives we had (Tuesday), the kids still have confidence all the way through to get the hits that we need.”
The Erie County Tigers also had a four-run inning in the sixth, getting singles from Caitlyn Kupniewski, Kristie Gerber, Rozantz and Roni Lipinski. Maplewood also committed three errors in the inning, ruining an otherwise spotless afternoon on defense.
Also, after the first Maplewood couldn’t get much more off of Rozantz. The Guys Mills girls did end the game with six hits — Hartman was 2-for-3 and Abby Sansom slugged a double — but couldn’t scratch any more runs across the plate.
Rozantz finished with one earned run on six hits, one walk and 11 strikeouts.
“She usually averages around there (11 strikeouts) a game,” said Deloe. “Her career high is 18 and she did that two or three times this year. At the end of the season she had 203 strikeouts in 19 games.”
Leading Fairview on offense was Martin, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Lipinski was 2-for-4 with a run and one RBI.
Smith finished the day with eight runs (five earned) on 11 hits. She walked one and struck out two.