Elk County Catholic softball won the Elk County Softball Tournament with a 3-1 victory over St. Marys in the championship game Friday at Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School.
The Lady Crusaders would strike immediately for a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Jessie Ginther led off the game with a single. Mackenzie Neureiter then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Ginther to second. Kristy Hanes would hit a scorching line drive to center field that was misplayed in center field. Ginther would score from second and Hanes would reach second on the play. After a strikeout, Lyndsey Trumbull would single home Hanes to push the Elk County Catholic lead to 2-0. Elk County Catholic assistant coach Digger O'Dell said getting the lead was big against a team like the Lady Dutch.
"With a team of St. Marys' caliber, it was huge," O'Dell said. "That's a quality team, that's the type of team we're going to be facing in districts and states. That only does us good playing a team like that. They only have a few losses and they've lost to teams triple-A and better. They're a good team, well-respected."
Lady Crusader starting pitcher Taylor Schlimm would lead off the sixth inning with a triple. Weather then intervened as thunder was heard and play was halted for 52 minutes. When play resumed, Trumbull hit a sacrifice fly to left field which plated Schlimm and gave Trumbull her second RBI of the game. Schlimm appeared to be injured on the slide into home and did not appear for the rest of the game.
ECC freshman Abbey Bauer would take over in the pitcher's circle for the Lady Crusaders and pitched a perfect sixth inning. With St. Marys down to its final chance in the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Dutch began to make some noise. Rachel Ginther led off the seventh with a double. Ginther moved to third on a 4-3 groundout from Hayley McGowan. A groundout from Mia Keener would score Ginther to make the margin 3-1 with two outs. Raelyn Cunningham would single to bring Cassie Wonderling to the plate as the potential tying run. Wonderling hit a long flyball to center field which was run down by Rachel Stauffer in center field just a few feet from the fence to seal the county tournament championship for the Lady Crusaders.
Bauer would finish with a pair of strikeouts in two innings for Elk County Catholic.
"She had a very good performance in the situation that for a senior is tough to handle and she handled it well," O'Dell said. "She's only a freshman, she did excellent."
The Lady Crusaders had a chance in the second inning to extend a 2-0 lead. After a leadoff strikeout, Sierra Meyer would single and Stauffer would double to put runners on second and third with one out. Ginther would bear down and get a strikeout and popout to shortstop to end the threat and leave the margin at 2-0.
Elk County Catholic would get little going with the bats from innings three through five. After a 1-2-3 third, ECC's only hit in the fourth was a 1-out bunt single from Maddy Schneider. Kristy Hanes had a 2-out double in the fifth but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
Ginther had a stretch of six straight outs via strikeouts for St. Marys from the top of the third until the fifth inning. Ginther finished with 11 strikeouts and no walks in a complete-game effort.
Schlimm gave up just one hit in five innings pitched for Elk County Catholic. She walked one and struck out six.
"Taylor, she was on her game and played well," O'Dell said.
Elk County Catholic had a balanced hitting effort with eight total hits from seven different players. Schneider was the lone Lady Crusader with multiple hits, she had a 2-for-3 game. Hanes and Stauffer each had doubles while Schlimm finished with a triple.
"We were hitting the ball well, we were scattering hits here and there," O'Dell said. "We played real well."
The consolation game was not played Friday and will be made up as part of a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Monday at Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School.