Though I did not physically attend either state final held at Penn State, I watched both Fannett-Metal and Big Spring win Class A and Class AAA state championships on PCN.org.
Initially, I was only going to watch Fannett-Metal, which was playing for its first state championship in school history in any sport.
I have a soft spot for Fannett-Metal and those who live and work in "The Valley."
Path Valley that is.
Though some writers from the Harrisburg Patriot-News sometimes irritatingly refer to Chambersburg as the Valley Trojans as if the Cumberland Valley is some remote outpost, those who live in Path Valley will gladly accept being from over in "the valley."
My dad lived in Amberson (P.O. Box 1) for years, I have spent a lot of time in that surrounding area and know a lot of people there. I've played with and against many soccer players and covered a lot of events as a sports writer over the years.
My sister is the pastor at Spring Run Presbyterian.
So I was very excited that this special group of girls from the tiny school was able to make the state finals, and possibly, history.
Just like anywhere else, Fannett-Metal has its share of issues, but there is a uniqueness to the area that anyone who has spent time over there understands. People are pretty simple, hard-working and have a certain accent that is unmistakable. City slickers need not apply.
As is the case in any sport (Chambersburg Trojan boys volleyball, as well), it takes the perfect blend of players when a local team is able to win a state title in a team sport. You have to have a stud, but you also have to also have a quality group of supporting players to go with the big dog.
In F-M's case, the big tiger was junior pitcher Blair Lauthers, who threw a tidy one-hitter and fanned 11. She also drove in the game's only run.
It was approximated that nearly 750 people made the trip in support of the Lady Tigers. This group of girls are now firmly entrenched into Path Valley lore. With only three seniors, they may just repeat, but one state title is certainly enough for now.
So I'm not sure what made me get back onto the web to watch the sixth and seventh innings of the Big Spring vs. Valley View game, but whatever it was, I say thanks.
What a finish! If you can access the game, do yourself a favor.
In the seventh inning, Big Spring was down 1-0 and things looked bleak as Valley View hurler Gina Chiefallo was doing a great job.
Suddenly, Big Spring's Taylor Mansfield roped a one-out triple to provide some hope.
Then a bunt pop-up eh.
Up steps Brittany Wagner, who had been pinch hit for earlier due to a bad wrist. This time, she stepped into the box. With two strikes, Wagner came through with a Kirk Gibson-esque RBI double to tie it. The next batter then hit a typical grounder to shortstop Liz Aniska, but the throw to first was too high, allowing Wagner to score from second.
I feel for Aniska. She'll have nightmares for years.
In the bottom half of the seventh, pitcher Calli Pastor walked the first batter and was pulled in favor of Taylor Mansfield. Five batters later, there were two outs and the bases loaded.
No pressure, huh?
With big hitter MollyAnn Mecca at the plate, Mansfield threw a wild pitch and the ball rolled away as the runner from third made a mad dash to the plate.
Catcher Ashley Baker was able to quickly flick the ball to Mansfield, who blocked the plate and put the tag on the runner. The umpire even added to the drama by slightly delaying his decision.
People jumping around, hugging.
People laying on the ground, crying.
And one guy in his basement in Chambersburg, smiling.
Graham Messner is a free-lance writer and a former coach. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.