By Lisa Byers
Cochranton came into the District 1 Little League softball tournament with a little chip on its shoulders.
For the last few years, the Cardinals stood on the opposite side of the field and watched as their opponent either advanced to the championship game or secured the championship banner at the 9 & 10 Year Old and Little League levels.
They weren’t about to let that happen a fourth straight year.
Megan Wright broke open a tight game with a two-run triple in the third inning and Cochranton kept adding on from there in a 19-1 win over Mid-East/Titusville on Sunday at Cochranton High School.
With the win, the Cardinals earned the District 1 Little League title and a berth in the Section 1 tournament which begins Tuesday at Dubois City Park.
“These kids have worked hard the last four years,” Cochranton coach Josh Miller said. “We’ve been runner-up. We’ve been third place twice. They wanted this and they worked really hard to get it.”
Cochranton had to get past another rather anxious team, though, to get it done.
MET traveled a long road to get to the District 1 title game. It was a journey that began back on Tuesday in an 11-6 loss to Cochranton in a game that pushed back a day because of weather.
The trip continued on Thursday with a 4-2 win over Cambridge Springs/McLane and then on Friday with a 12-6 win over Lakeview/Commodore Perry. Then Saturday, MET beat Lakeland, 4-0, in Sadsbury Township and then carted off to Saegertown where it picked up a 10-6 win to land its spot in the title tilt. Phew.
“You could see that it had been a long week for (MET),” Miller said. “I think (Saturday) took a lot out of them and we eventually wore them down. Because it was a tight game early.”
Indeed it was.
Cochranton did take a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kaleigh Danielson led off the game with a single, stole second and third and scored on a passed ball. But MET didn’t let the Cardinals rest comfortably on that single run, threatening in both the bottom of the first and second innings to tie the game.
It wasn’t until the third that the Cardinals gained some distance, and it was three unearned runs that did the damage.
Kendall Miller struck out for what would have been the second out of the inning, but the pitch got by the catcher and Miller reached first safely. Elise Miller then drew a walk, bringing Wright, who had her own personal cheering section, to the plate.
Wright crushed the ball to left-center for a triple, plating both Millers, and also came around to score on an error to give Cochranton a 4-0 lead. That is all Cochranton pitcher Kayla Freyermuth needed.
“It feels good to strike all of those batters out and finally reach the achievement I’ve been waiting for,” Freyermuth said.
Freyermuth finished with five strikeouts, three of which came over the final three innings to put the game away. Of course, her offense wasn’t quite done either.
Cochranton tacked on five runs in the fifth and added 10 more in the sixth to cap the victory.
“I thought it was pretty awesome,” Elise Miller said. “We’ve been runners up for quite a few years. It felt good to finally win it.”
And it all came down to the three key principles of softball, pitching, hitting and defense, all of which Cochranton does pretty well.
“I’ve been preaching it all week,” Josh Miller said. “We’re agressive in the batter’s box. We’re agressive on the bases. We’re agressive with our gloves and arms. We’re always attack. Whatever the situation is, we’re attacking.
“The girls are just fundamentally sound. They just play ball very well.”
They hope it continues.
“I can’t wait to go to Dubois and just get better at playing a good ballgame,” Freyermuth said.
Danielson, Freyermuth, Elise Miller, Wright and Megan Mudger had two hits each. Freyermuth and Wright drove in three runs each. Elise Miller and Wright scored four runs apiece.
Megan Prenatt drove in MET’s run with a groundout in the fourth inning.