LORETTEPa. –Softball isn’t supposed to be a contact sport, but Conemaugh Valley sophomore Isabella Winkelman doesn’t care if the game gets a little physical once in a while.
“I would take a collision any day for a district title,” Winkelman said. “I think I’d rather be lying on the floor and scoring two points and then knowing my team is behind me.”
Winkelman was the unlikely hero, his incredible two-run strikeout – yes, a two-run strikeout – proved to be the difference as the Blue Jays won their first District 6 title in five years with a an unlikely 2-0 victory over defending champion Glendale in the Class 1A title game on a steamy Wednesday at Red Flash Softball Field.
“It wasn’t the best way to score points, but we got the points, so it doesn’t really matter,” said shortstop Hailey Stiffler, one of the two senior Blue Jays. “I’m a little hot, but I’m happy. I’m excited. It feels good.”
Both teams will qualify for the PIAA tournament on Monday.
Conemaugh Valley (16-3) will face the WPIAL finalist.
The Blue Jays scored the only points on a goofy play in the top of the fourth.
With Anna Gunby in third and Delanie Davison in second with two outs, Winkelman swung on the third strike. However, when the receiver couldn’t hold on to the ball, Winkelman took off for first.
The catcher’s throw to first came in simultaneously with Winkelman and Glendale first baseman Abbey Williams, and the ball broke free on collision. Gunby and Davison scored.
“I just saw the ball drop and rushed to base as fast as I could, hoping I was safe,” Winkelman said. “I lost my helmet and everything. It was a crazy experience. »
WestPAC runner-up and No. 2 seed Conemaugh Valley had just three hits.
Gunby had two.
“I just saw (the receiver) let go of the ball. As soon as she turned around and looked away from me, I knew I had to go, even though she was the one playing. I had to go out there and at least try to score,” Gunby said.
“It was great that Isabella was so considerate and knew she could run on it,” Davison said.
It was then up to Davison to hold the lead. Glendale (16-2) won the top seed in large part due to her powerful formation, but Davison, mostly throwing screw balls because she couldn’t control her curve, managed to prevent the Vikings from getting the big hit.
Glendale had the first tying run in the sixth.
Then, in the seventh, Davison appeared to be overly excited and walked Williams and gave up Caitlyn Rydbom’s third hit of the game, bringing the top of Glendale’s lineup to the plate with no one on.
However, Davison regained his composure to get a foul out of Riley Best, who hit two homers in a previous playoff game. Then she knocked out Kaprice Cavalet before asking Madi Peterson to hit a hard ball that Blue Jay center fielder Bella Grecek found for the final.
The victory not only brought the District 6 trophy back to Conemaugh Valley, but it also gave Blue Jays coach Paula McCleester a bath – it was her 300th career victory.
McCleester, however, focused on everyone but herself afterward.
“These girls just believed,” McCleester said. “They worked very hard. They believe in the system and the coaching staff and just come and play ball.
The result avenged a Blue Jays home loss to Glendale in the first round of the 2021 District Playoffs.
Glendale will face the District 5 champion, either Meyersdale or Shade, on Monday. The Vikings beat Conemaugh Valley 6-3 as Rydbom went 3 for 3 and Alyson Buterbaugh scored two points.
Peterson, a freshman, struck out nine and walked just two in the loss.
“We knew whoever blinked was going to (lose), and we did,” Glendale coach Bruce Vereshack said. “They have a good team. They played well.
“They didn’t make any mistakes, and we did.”
Conemaugh Valley left only two runners on base. Davison stepped in whenever the Blue Jays needed him, blocking five Vikings who were in scoring position.
Both teams threatened in the first. Gunby doubled the right-field line and Davison scored an out, but Peterson caught Ledwich’s comeback and turned it into an inning-ending double play, third at first. In the Glendale half, after Peterson hit a two-out error, Buterbaugh drove a pitch from Davison deep left, but Megan Rosenbaum snowed it just past the fence.
A fortuitous rebound ensured the game went scoreless late in the second. Two outs after Glendale’s Jillian Taylor boarded on a first single, Stiffler knocked down the first on Williams’ floor, but the ball bounced directly off Julia Hudec, who alertly applied the tag when Williams turned to second and got too far from base.
“It feels really good. We really wanted it and worked hard all season. After losing WestPAC, we didn’t want to lose two league games in one season,” Gunby said.