Three batters came up and three batters went down, all on three-pitch strikeouts, and Lauthers ran and jumped into the arms of her catcher Amanda Laye.
It capped off a dominating day for the junior pitcher, who struck out 15 batters, and a 2-1 win for the Tigers.
Fannett-Metal will play Chartiers-Houston on Monday in the state semifinals. Time and location are still to be determined.
"After every batter I was looking at Jenna (Rhodes), because she was talking to me the whole way," Lauthers said. "She told me to just throw strikes. The defense will be there, just throw strikes. And that's what I did."
It was clear early on that the Lady Crusaders were going to have a long afternoon against the composed, flame-throwing Lauthers. Through two innings Lauthers racked up a third of her strikeouts and wasn't about to slow down.
"Their pitcher pitched very well," Elk County Catholic coach Joseph Coroso said.
Fannett-Metal coach Stewart Miller said, "When the pressure's on it doesn't seem to bother her. We count on her and she came through at the end of the day as she has all season, as both pitchers have."
As the game went on, Lauthers seemed to get stronger.
She recorded two strikeouts to end the fourth inning.
The last five batters she faced went down on strikes.
"I'd tell her it was just me and her," said Tigers catcher Naomi Fields, who caught a runner stealing. "You just hope to be a part of something big. If she can get it done and she has the defense to back her up, she's on top of her game when things are going like that."
Crusader leadoff hitter Jessie Ginther was the first to get a hit on Lauthers, a line drive single to right-center field in the third inning.
Two batters later, with Ginther now on second after a stolen base, Kristy Hanes hit a hard grounder through Morgan Burdge's legs, allowing Ginther to score.
It didn't take long for the Tigers to respond, scoring in the bottom of the inning when Jenna Rhodes whacked a Taylor Schlimm changeup to center field, bringing Megan Dougherty in from second.
"I think if we let them stay ahead of us for so long it could have made a big difference," Fields said. "Answering right back, it's important to keep our heads in the game. As soon as you get that first hit and someone starts it, it catches fire."
Said Lauthers, "After we scored I felt so much better. That was huge."
Fields, who went 2-for-3, nearly had the go-ahead hit to start the fourth with a long fly ball which sailed over the left fielders' head and nearly the left field fence. She settled for a double.
Casey O'Donnell, the courtesy runner for Fields, moved to third on a bunt by Melissa Zeger and scored on a groundout by Amanda Laye.
Both of the Tigers' wins in the state playoffs have been 2-1 scores. Fannett-Metal beat Carmichaels in the first round.
"We just hope to keep it rolling," Laye said. "If you can get them close, a win's a win. Whenever you beat a team down it doesn't make you better. These close games make you focus a lot more."
The game against Chartiers-Houston has the Tigers plotting for revenge. They lost to the Bucs, 2-1, in last year's PIAA Class A quarterfinals.
"We owe them one," Miller said. "That was last year, we have to play for this year. And I guarantee we'll show up."
Colin Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 262-4819, or on Twitter @ColinStevens06.
Fannett-Metal 2, Elk County Catholic 1
Elk County Catholic Fannett-Metal
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Ginther rf 3 1 1 0 Dougherty cf 2 1 0 0
Imbrogna ss 3 0 0 0 Cornell rf 2 0 0 0
Haynes c 1 0 0 0 Lauthers p 3 0 1 0
Schlimm p 3 0 1 0 Rhodes ss 2 0 1 1
Trumbull 3b 2 0 0 0 Burdge 2b 3 0 0 0
Dafonal 1b 3 0 0 0 Fields c 3 0 2 0
Stauffer cf 3 0 0 0 O'Donnell pr 0 1 0 0
Bauer dh 2 0 0 0 Zeger 1b 2 0 0 0
Schneider lf 2 0 0 0 Hammond dh 2 0 0 0
Meyer ph 1 0 0 0 Laye 3b 2 0 0 1
Totals 23 1 2 0 Totals 21 2 4 2
Elk County Catholic 001 000 0 - 1
Fannett-Metal 001 100 x - 2
E-(ECC) 1; (F-M) 2. LOB-(ECC) 5; (F-M) 5. 2B- Naomi Fields. SB- Jessie Ginther; Melissa Zeger. CS- Mackenzie Neureiter.
Elk County Catholic pitching
ip h r er bb k
Taylor Schlimm (L) 6 4 2 2 3 8
Blaire Lauthers (W) 7 2 1 0 4 15