EVERETT - Jenna Rhodes played for a Fannett-Metal softball team that won a District 5 Class A championship three years ago when she was a freshman.
"I was surprised then, and I really didn't think about winning four of them," Rhodes said.
But after the Tigers thumped Berlin 6-0 in the district final Thursday afternoon at Everett Elementary School, Rhodes added a fourth gold medal to her impressive collection.
And Rhodes admitted, "I was thinking about the fourth this year, even though we were playing a lot of young girls."
Fannett-Metal (20-4) will play Carmichaels, the District 7 runner-up, in a first-round PIAA Tournament game on Monday at 4 p.m., right back at Everett.
F-M is young - seven freshmen played in the final - but it has a solid core of players and it starts with dominating pitching. Rhodes did the honors in Tuesday's semifinals and Blaire Lauthers was on the mound Thursday.
Berlin never really had a chance.
Lauthers silenced the Mountaineers' bats. She allowed just one hit - a solid leadoff single in the top of the seventh inning by Keirsten Coughenour - walked two, hit a batter and sat 13 down on strikes. Of her 95 pitches, 66 were strikes.
Berlin coach Ashley Shaffer said, "She's the best pitcher we've seen just very tough to hit because of her speed and control and she can move the ball around.
About the only thing Lauthers did wrong was throw three illegal pitches.
"I felt good early, and then he called an illegal pitch," Lauthers said. "The first one didn't bother me, but then it kept happening. I had to make sure it didn't get in my head.
Lauthers' first six outs came on strikeouts and the first batted ball other than a bunt came with two outs in the third. Only two Mountaineer runners got past first base.
F-M coach Stewart Miller said, "Blaire threw hard and she stayed focused. Her determination is uncanny and she is excellent at hitting her spots."
Miller admitted that he thought his team found an edge.
"We've had that umpire before and he has a bit of an outside strike zone," he said. "And Blaire kept hitting it."
With Lauthers in control, all the Tigers needed was a couple of runs, and that goal was achieved in the bottom of the first inning.
With one out, Candice Cornell dropped a single into right field. Lauthers drilled a base hit to left that was misplayed, allowing Cornell to score and Lauthers to take third. Morgan Burdge then singled to right to drive in the second run.
Burdge, who was 2-for-3, said, "Since we had already seen that pitcher (Megan Demartino) before, we were confident hitting against her. It really helped out a lot, getting that early lead."
Fannett-Metal put the game away in the third inning with a four spot. Megan Dougherty singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch, then Lauthers was semi-intentionally walked. She swiped second base, then Rhodes came through with a line drive hit up the middle that brought in both runners and made it 4-0.
Burdge then singled and a base hit by Naomi Fields drove in pinch-runner Casey O'Donnell.
Miller said, "My assistants and I made some changes to the lineup for the last game that seemed to have helped. It's made the bunters more efficient and freed up some of the other hitters. Across the board we hit the ball well today.
"We had to replace five starters from last year, but the new girls have shown they can play at this level. They are improving and making adjustments every day and my staff has really helped with that."
The young players also have a good core of veteran players to lead them. Winning four straight district titles is the best kind of experience you can get.
Just ask Jenna Rhodes.
Ed Gotwals can be reached at 262-4755 and email@example.com or on Twitter @EdGotwalsPO.
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Short ss 3 0 0 0 Dougherty cf 4 1 1 0
Paul 2b 3 0 0 0 Cornell rf 3 1 1 0
Demartino p 2 0 0 0 Lauthers p 3 2 1 0
Johnson 1b 3 0 0 0 Rhodes ss 3 0 1 2
Coughenour rf 2 0 1 0 O'Donnell pr 0 1 0 0
Merkel dp 2 0 0 0 Burdge 2b 3 1 2 1
Vance lf 0 0 0 0 Fields c 3 0 1 1
May ph 1 0 0 0 Mackey cr 0 0 0 0
Dunn 3b 2 0 0 0 Beckner lf 2 0 0 0
Poorbaugh cf 3 0 0 0 Hamman ph 1 0 0 0
Fieg c 2 0 0 0 Hammond dp 3 0 0 0
Zeger 1b 0 0 0 0
Laye 3b 2 0 0 0
Leasure ph 1 0 1 0
Totals 23 0 1 0 Totals 28 6 8 4
Berlin 000 000 0 - 0
Fannett-Metal 204 000 x - 6
E-Ber 2; FM 2. LOB-Ber 5; FM 6. SB-Dougherty, Lauthers, Mackey, Hammond.
ip h r er bb so
Demartino (L) 6 8 6 4 2 6
Lauthers (W,10-3) 7 1 0 0 2 13
HBP-by Lauthers (Coughenour). WP-Demartino 2. PB-FM 1.