COCHRANTON — The Region 3 championship had already been decided. But for Saegertown, Tuesday’s matchup with rival Cochranton was about doing something that is often so difficult in the Crawford County-heavy region: finishing unbeaten.
Chalk up another victory for the Panthers.
Saegertown checked off another box on its list of goals for the 2019 season following a 3-1 win over the Cardinals. The Panthers moved to 18-1 overall and wrapped up their Region 3 title run at a perfect 10-0. Cochranton fell to 12-5 overall and 7-3 in the region.
“Any time you get a win against Cochranton, it’s a good game,” Saegertown coach Mark McKissock said. “It’s tough here. I’m happy we went through the region undefeated. I’m happy we won tonight. But I’m not happy with our performance. Credit that to their pitcher. They played us well.”
With a potential non-region game against a solid Warren team on Thursday at Penn State Behrend and the District 10 playoffs looming, the Panthers know sub-par performances aren’t going to cut it. After all, the Region 3 title can be a bit of a curse when it comes to the D-10 playoffs.
A year ago, Saegertown and Cochranton shared the region title and the Panthers did finish as the District 10 champions. In 2017, region champion Union City was knocked out in the D-10 semifinals. Union City won the region title in 2016, but fell to Saegertown in the D-10 title game. Needless to say, the Panthers know their job isn’t finished.
“We all have a job on our team,” Saegertown first baseman Courtney Hess said. “And going in to the District 10 playoffs, we need to do our jobs. If we don’t, we have a chance of being done. Luckily tonight, we had an off night and still got the job done.”
Now, the game between Cochranton and Saegertown did get off to a solemn start. After Cochranton paid tribute to its senior track and field athlete Jac Cokley and senior softball player Megan Mudger, the newly erected press box at the Cochranton High School softball field was dedicated in honor of the late Darwin DuPont.
Former Cochranton head coach Mark McGuire spoke about the lasting impact both Tom Brunot, a longtime softball coach at Saegertown, and DuPont had on the game of softball and the lives of several girls in both communities prior to their passing in December and March, respectively. A sign was then unveiled bearing the words “Darwin DuPont Press Box” and handed over to the Cochranton softball team for a jog around the field.
Again, there was little kick in their step as they made their way round the outfield fence. There was some chatter in both dugouts. And Cochranton coach Mitch Shreve showed his excitement inside the first base dugout. But it wasn’t until the third inning that either team really made any noise. That noise came in the way of a thunk off the bat of Katelyn Young as she smoked a ball over the fence just inside the foul pole in right field to plate the first two runs of the game.
Young also provided the Panthers’ third run in the sixth inning just after Cochranton cut the lead in half with a solo homer by Megan Heim. This time Young hit a lazer to the fence in center for a double. She slid under the tag to reach third safely on a fielder’s choice and then scored on a sacrifice fly ball to short stop.
Young accounted for three of the Panthers’ five hits on the day.
Cochranton did have some good contact at the plate against Young. But everything the Cardinals hit, seemed to find a way into a glove. The Cardinals finished with three hits and had just two runners make it to second base.
“Sometimes you hit the ball and it’s right at them,” Shreve said. “And it’s, ‘Ah, we can’t catch a break against them.’ But a team like that, you have to put some baserunners on and put some pressure on them. We hit the ball. We were ripping it hard. We just couldn’t get anything strung together.”
All three of the Cardinals’ hits were with the bases empty. Lexie Moore had a one-out single in the first and ended up at second on a wild pitch. Young struck out the next two batters to get out of it. In the second, Jaylin McGill had a leadoff single. Again, Young finished off the inning with three strikeouts.
Young went all seven innings and allowed one earned run on three hits with a walk and nine strikeouts.
Olivia Karns also pitched a solid game despite the loss. She held a lineup with four batters hitting over .400 to five hits. She walked one and struck out five.