By Frank Foreman
July 19, 2013 7:00 a.m. CORRY —
Struggles on the mound and struggles at the plate led to a disappointing finish for the Mid-East/Titusville 9 and 10 Year Old softball team Thursday night, as Punxsutawney needed just four innings to pick up a 13-3 victory at Columbus School Field in the Section 1 championship final.
MET went into the game needing two wins to earn a trip to states, but fell into trouble early against Punxsy and never quite found a rhythm.
Punxsutawney finished the game with more runs (13) than at-bats (11), showing just how difficult it became for the Mid-East/Titusville pitchers to find the strike zone.
In total, Mid-East/Titusville’s three pitchers combined for 17 walks and three hit batsmen.
Simply put, it just wasn’t MET’s night.
“We knew going into the game that the key to beating Punxsutawney was playing superb defense and having no walks,” Mid-East/Titusville manager Terry Doolittle said. “We wanted Punxsy to hit the ball, but we got into walk problems, and it followed from one pitcher to the next. We never really got out of it. Punxsutawney is too good of a team to dig that big of a hole and expect to get out of it.”
That hole was a six-run bottom of the first inning for Punxsutawney, where it loaded the bases with one out, and began taking advantage of Mid-East/Titusville miscues.
Punxsy’s Holly Hartman was the first to cross home plate as she was pushed across with a bases loaded walk. A poor throw back to the mound allowed Kendall Johnston to score to make it 2-0, and the flood gates began to open.
A wild pitch brought home Abby Gigliotti, a poor throw to second base following a walk scored Grace Hall, a dropped ball at first base on a routine play plated Riley Presloid, and a hit batsman scored Abbi Riscus.
Before you knew it, Punxsutawney opened up a six-run advantage without a single hit.
Mid-East/Titusville, which won the coin toss and elected to be the visiting team, had a golden opportunity in the top of the first, but missed out on a bases loaded situation.
With MET’s Chloe Leech at the plate, Maddie Woge took off for home with two outs on a wild pitch. The combination of a favorable bounce behind the dish and good hustle by Punxsy catcher Gigliotti allowed Punxsutawney to nail Woge trying to score, putting an end to an early rally.
Mid-East/Titusville once again loaded the bases in the top half of the second with nobody out, but a groundout, flyout and a right field putout at first base ended the inning. Through two innings, Mid-East/Titusville had left six runners on base and had zero runs on the board.
After a bases loaded walk pushed home Punxsutawney’s seventh run in the bottom of the second, Mid-East/Titusville finally got on the board in the third, starting with Taylor Kerr’s single to lead off the inning.
Once Kerr reached first following the base hit, she stole second on the very next pitch, and in turn created two throwing errors by Punxsutawney, bringing Kerr all the way home to make it 7-1.
Later in the frame, Lindsay Sweitzer slapped an RBI single into right field to bring home Alaina Gallegor to make it 7-2.
Mid-East/Titusville had some life, and the success at the plate carried over into the field, where shortstop McKenna Houck made a nice catch in shallow left field, and fired home to nail Punxsy’s Alle Meko trying to tag from third for the double play.
The final Mid-East/Titusville run of the game came in the fourth, when Woge scored on an error, but MET couldn’t sustain any rallies at the plate to cut any more into the lead.
“The girls showed resiliency out there. Even when we were down 6-0, they kept fighting and never gave up,” Doolittle said. “They could have given up after Punxsy had the big first inning, but they fought back. They could have given up on Monday when they lost to Punxsutawney and went into the loser’s bracket, but they came all the way back.”
Sweitzer led the way for Mid-East/Titusville offensively, finishing 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Punxsutawney’s Elliot Ferrent recorded its lone hit.
Though MET’s season didn’t end quite the way Doolittle and his players would have hoped, the manager remained extremely proud of how far his team has come, and is already looking forward to next season.
Mid-East/Titusville has laid quite the foundation to build from in 2014.
“The emotions in the dugout right now are high, from the coaches to the players. They didn’t want this to be the end,” Doolittle said. “We talked about next year. We want this to be a journey never forgotten for them. We hope it’s a solid stepping stone for their softball careers.”