WINDBER – The winningest season in Conemaugh Township softball history came to an end on Monday when the District 5 champion Indians fell to District 3 runner-up Brandywine Heights by a score of 2-0 at Windber.
“We knew it was going to be a battle and they’re a good team,” said Indians coach Jason Hazlett. “They made plays, we made plays, they just benefitted from our errors and we didn’t benefit from theirs.”
In a sign of things to come, both pitchers had their best stuff on display right from the start. Indians’ starter Carlie Dillon retired the Bullets in order to open the game then her counterpart on the mound, Jessica Davidheiser, followed suit in the bottom half of the inning.
The trend of clean innings continued on for most of the afternoon, but they came a little easier for Davidheiser who was in complete control against the Indians’ offense. Wherever catcher Naomi Fay was putting her glove, that’s where Davidheiser was throwing it, and the Indians had no answer.
“Her changeup was working, and she just hit her spots,” said Bullets coach Don Roach about his starter’s performance. “She was totally focused on hitting spots and doing her job.”
For the game, Davidheiser recorded seven strikeouts and carried a perfect game into the bottom of the sixth inning.
When she wasn’t striking out Indians’ batters, her defense was there to make sure no damage was done.
While Davidheiser was holding up her end of the bargain, Dillon was doing the same. A four-year starter, Dillon has been the centerpiece of this Indians’ team that claimed back-to-back district titles and won 20 games for the first time in school history this season.
Hazlett heaped praise on his star pitcher following the defeat.
“Carlie’s been our centerpiece and I can’t say enough about what she’s done in her career, her stats say it for her,” he said.
“Over 600 strikeouts in her career and 200 this year and 10 more today with an ERA of 0.99 that will drop more after today.”
Though she may not have had her best stuff on Monday afternoon, Dillon was every bit as effective in keeping the Bullets off the scoreboard. Faced with runners in scoring position in both the second and third innings, Dillon produced a pair of clutch strikeouts to end the threats with no damage done.
She ended the game with 10 total strikeouts and struck out every Bullet batter expect leadoff hitter Haley Herzog.
Both sides remained scoreless until the Bullets broke the ice in the top of the fifth inning. Herzog drew a one out walk, then advanced to third base on a pair of passed balls. On the second passed ball, the Indians’ catcher stumbled, and Herzog broke for home where she slid in safely after the ball ricocheted off Dillon’s neck in an attempt to prevent the run.
Now pitching with a lead, Davidheiser continued to dominate on the mound before her perfect game was broken up on a single by Amy Daugherty. For the first time the Indians had a baserunner, but it amounted to little as Davidheiser successfully recovered to end any threat.
For her efforts, Davidheiser was rewarded with an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning, once again on a play at the plate. Ashley Lenhart drew a walk to start the inning, then advanced to third on another pair of passed balls.
Lenhart then broke for home on a bunt from Naomi Fay and looked to be out at the plate, but the ball squirted away from the Indians’ catcher for a 2-0 Bullets’ advantage.
With the season on the line, the Indians produced their best run-scoring threat in the bottom of the seventh inning, but it was to no avail in the end. With runners on second and third, Davidheiser dug deep and produced a pair of strikeouts to end the threat and end the game.