By Lisa Byers
July 16, 2013 7:00 a.m. EDINBORO —
In 2010, then Cochranton coach Don Harvey stood in the dugout with his team and watched McLane jog around the softball diamond with the District 1 9 and 10 Year Old championship banner.
The following year, he watched again as McLane came out on the good end of a 10-8 decision against Cochranton in the District 1 Little League winner’s bracket final on its way to another District 1 crown.
Then, a year ago, Harvey watched yet again as McLane rolled through the District 1 Little League bracket to defend its crown. This time, Cochranton did not face McLane.
Needless to say, Harvey and his players had seen enough of McLane the last three years to know its potential. So with both teams low on numbers at the Junior League level this year and with both teams having some familiarity with one another, Harvey thought, “Why not combine the two?”
Now Harvey and Co. are champions.
McLane/Cochranton clinched the District 1 Junior League softball title on Monday with a 14-4 five-inning win over Mid-East/Titusville at the Edinboro Little League Complex.
McLane/Cochranton advances to the Section 1 tournament in St. Marys. Play begins Wednesday at St. Marys Area High School.
“It’s been a good year,” said McLane/Cochranton’s Hannah Harvey of Cochranton. “I’m glad we came to play with (McLane). Now finally we get to go to Sections this year.”
Of course, McLane and Cochranton players both did their part in earning the District 1 title. Albeit they sure didn’t do it the easy way.
McLane/Cochranton won its opening game against Cambridge Springs/Saegertown 12-2. The next day, however, McLane/Cochranton fell into the loser’s bracket following a 3-2 loss to Mid-East/Titusville.
On Friday, McLane/Cochranton beat Cambridge Springs/Saegertown again and then on Saturday eliminated Commodore Perry/Lakeview 11-3 to earn a spot in Sunday’s winner’s bracket final against Mid-East/Titusville.
On Sunday, McLane/Cochranton fell behind 5-0 before rallying back to take a 12-8 win and force yesterday’s if necessary game. And just like the day before, McLane/Cochranton spotted Mid-East/Titusville a rather sizeable advantage.
Mid-East/Titusville took a 4-0 lead after just a half-inning of play. Faith Sansom delivered an RBI single, Hadley Barker scored on a passed ball and Maggie Hunter laced a two-run single.
McLane/Cochranton got two of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to two (4-2). Harvey walked and scored on a dropped fly ball off the bat of Mia Schaller. Schaller then scored on a single by Megan Haynes. At that point, it was all McLane/Cochranton.
While Haley Carter and Abby Staley worked on a masterpiece on the mound, McLane/Cochranton’s defense and offense kicked it up a notch.
Mid-East/Titusville did not score another run and didn’t have a runner reach base past the first inning until Dawsyn Wheeling drew a one-out walk in the fifth inning. She was then caught stealing at second base.
Meanwhile, McLane/Cochranton scored in each of the final four innings. It scored the eventual game-winning run during a three-run second inning.
Haley Wells and Harvey scored on another dropped fly ball to tie the game at 4-4. Then Schaller reached on an infield error that allowed Alma Mamani to score the go ahead run.
“Once we started getting our hits going and getting into their heads, they started going down and that just brought us up even more,” Staley said.
McLane/Cochranton added two runs in the third and four in the fourth and sealed the deal with three runs in the fifth. Wells came up with the game-ending hit, a two-run single scoring Hannah Johnson and Staley.
“We come out and give up four runs right off the bat and then our defense tightened up,” coach Harvey said. “We knew we could get some hits and then it just snowballed from there. I’m really proud of all of them.”
Harvey finished the game 2-for-3 with four runs scored, three RBIs and a double. Haynes was also 2-for-3. Staley was 2-for-2 and pitched three innings of relief allowing just the walk.
For Mid-East/Titusville, Hunter was 1-for-1 with two RBIs.