LORETTO – Bishop McCort had to wait a couple of extra days to play for the team’s first district softball championship after thunderstorms struck just before first pitch on Wednesday.
The Crimson Crushers will have to wait at least another year.
Just one out from hoisting District 6 Class AA gold Friday afternoon, things came unraveled at the very end and the Crimson Crushers’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion, 4-2, against Marion Center at a sunny yet windy St. Francis University.
“Emotions are really high-strung throughout the games,” said Crimson Crusher senior Megan McKee, who singled and scored the game’s first run as Bishop McCort grabbed a 2-0 lead. “Errors killed us. We always preached that if you have an error you have to come back. We didn’t, and they did.”
The Crimson Crushers committed seven errors, including four in a three-run Marion Center rally with two outs in the top of the seventh after Bishop McCort entered the inning ahead, 2-1. Bishop McCort, the No. 1 seed, finished the year 17-3; only the district champion advanced to the PIAA tournament in Class AA.
“We were one out away, and we made some blunders, and that’s what happens,” Bishop McCort coach Rick Conrad said.
“The only games we lost this year were when we shot ourselves in the foot. I was hoping we’d come in and play a good game with no errors. And we did ... until the last inning.”
After falling behind, the Stingers got an unearned run in the fifth. A pair of outstanding defensive plays by Crimson Crusher shortstop Ally Diamond – one on a grounder in the hole, the other on a looping liner – sandwiched around Hailey McCunn’s single had Bishop McCort on the verge of district gold.
Then the wheels came off.
No. 3 hitter Morgan Straw smashed a line single into right field, and, when the ball was bobbled in the outfield, McCunn raced home with the tying run. To make matters worse, Straw – caught in a rundown between second and third for the apparent last out – was ruled safe trying to scramble back to second base because of fielder’s interference.
Marion Center took the lead when Laney Monroe’s subsequent line single to center was booted, putting her on third. Monroe then scored on a dropped flyball before Bishop McCort recorded the third out.
Tori Wissinger opened the bottom of the seventh by reaching third on an error, but Marion Center relief pitcher Grace Rougeaux struck out Bishop McCort’s next three in order to send the Stingers into the PIAA tournament.
Crimson Crusher leadoff hitter Sierra Widmar, who just missed an extra-base hit in the seventh when her scorcher landed foul, also was a starter on Bishop McCort volleyball and basketball teams – they were eliminated by eventual state champions Northern Cambria and Bellwood-Antis in early-round district play.
“It really (stinks). We tried. You just come up short sometimes,” said Widmar, one of four Crimson Crusher seniors. “I think nerves played a big role in this game.
“Everyone was nervous in that last inning and it showed.”
It was the second straight game Marion Center came back from a 2-1 seventh-inning deficit to win, having knocked off Southern Huntingdon in the semifinals in similar fashion.
“It’s just the heart that these kids have,” Marion Center coach Ed Peterson said.
“They never give up until the last pitch, until the last out’s made.”
Bishop McCort broke on top in the bottom of the fourth with the help of a couple of perfectly-placed hits.
McKee, leading off, popped one up that hit a few yards in front of the plate and died there for an infield single. After Diamond singled to center, Emily Ream blooped a Jasmine Hill offering right onto the line in medium right field. The English took the ball into foul territory as McKee scored.
Lydia Sorchilla’s bunt was thrown into her for an error as she reached first base and Diamond crossed the plate.
Bishop McCort pitcher Lauren Dellett battled in the early innings, getting through the first four frames unscathed although Marion Center got five runners aboard, stranding three in scoring position.
Just a junior, she and Diamond, a sophomore, will lead the Crushers next year as they attempt to reach the next rung on the ladder of success.
“I’m proud of my team. We’ve worked so hard and made it so far,” said Dellett, who struck out eight, walked none and didn’t allow an earned run. “We can only build on this. Last year, we made it to the semifinals.
“This year, we made it to the finals. Next year, we’ll see where it goes.”