Meadville Tribune

Sports

June 28, 2014

Cochranton punches ticket to District 1 final

SAEGERTOWN — It seems that no lead is safe against the Cochranton Little League All-Stars softball team.

Just a couple days after bouncing back from a 3-0 deficit against Lakeland, the Cochranton girls rallied once again, this time out of a five-run hole, and advanced to the District 1 championship game with a 10-9 victory over French Creek Valley American, Saturday at Bertram Park.

“I told the girls going into this tournament that it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Cochranton head coach Josh Miller. “You look at the bracket — Lakeland, Mid-East/Titusville and now Saegertown. We faced all the top teams. We had to earn every win. And I think it’s done us a lot of good. When we get down, we don’t get down too far. The girls continue to battle.”

Cochranton now faces Mid-East/Titusville in the championship game today at 3 p.m. at Cochranton. Mid-East/Titusville was a 10-6 winner over FCVA in the loser’s bracket final yesterday evening.

For a little while yesterday, though, it looked like Cochranton was in trouble too deep to dig out of.

FCVA rang up five runs in the first inning. Maddie Mondi and Chloe Luchansky drew back-to-back walks. Then Kaylee Mulligan, Courtney Hess and Megan Walsh hit three consecutive singles. Mulligan’s drove in Mondi. And Hess’ hit brought in two runs.

Lauren Haylett brought in a fourth run on a fielder’s choice. Then Callie Craig plated the final run of the inning on another grounder.

“Another first inning like the Lakeland game,” said Miller. “The girls had to chip away, chip away.”

The chipping began in the bottom of the first for Cochranton. Alayna McKay reached on an error. Then with two outs, Kendall Miller struck out swinging. But the ball got away from the catcher. Miller high-tailed it to first, and on the throw down to nab her, McKay scampered home to score.

Later, Elise Miller plugged a single through the right side of the infield to score Kendall Miller. It was now a 5-2 game.

FCVA got those two runs back in the top of the third. Hess spanked a double to right. Megan Walsh singled Hess home. Then Craig brought home Walsh with a hit. It was now 7-2.

Cochranton answered with three runs in the bottom half. Kaleigh Danielson singled. Kayla Freyermuth drew a walk. Then Kendall Miller roped a double to left-center to drive both runners in. Elise Miller then added her second RBI of the game with a fielder’s choice groundout, trimming FCVA’s lead to 7-5.

Cochranton would pull ahead with a big four-run fifth inning. Danielson got things going with a double and scored on a strikeout-passed ball. Kendall Miller kept things going with a one-out single and scored on an error.

Elise Miller then reached on an error and scored on a base knock by Megan Wright, pushing Cochranton ahead 8-7. And Wright later scored on a wild pitch to give her squad a two-run lead.

They would need both those runs, it turned out. FCVA came up clutch in the sixth. Ashley Merritt and Katie Burger both reached on walks. Luchansky plated Merritt with a ground ball. And Hess hit a bloop single to right to send in Burger and tie the game at 9s.

But Cochranton would not be denied. In the bottom of the sixth, Lauren Phillips drew a lead-off walk. She made it to third on a single by McKay. Then Danielson hit a grounder to short, giving pinch runner Kristen Woolstrum enough time to beat the throw from first to home plate, scoring the game-winning run.

“That was a real good game,” said French Creek head coach Jim Mulligan. “We knew that seven runs wasn’t going to be enough. We’ve played against this team for three years. We knew what to expect. Cochranton is a pretty good hitting team.”

Cochranton had seven base hits in the game. Danielson was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Miller was 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Megan Mudger earned the pitching win in relief, picking up the three outs in the sixth.

The defensive star of the game for Cochranton was Danielson at third base. Her highlight was gloving a laser beam off of Kaylee Mulligan’s bat to lead off the third inning.

“My hat’s off top their third baseman,” said coach Mulligan. “She made a couple plays that probably saved them a few runs.”

Saegertown was led at the plate by Hess, who was 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs. She also suffered the pitching loss, despite striking out seven while walking just two.

“That Courtney Hess is a special talent,” said Miller.

Walsh also had a solid day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI.

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