DISTRICT 3-AAA SOFTBALL: James Buchanan small balls its way to a win over Garden Spot
MERCERSBURG >> James Buchanan didn't go into Tuesday's game against Garden Spot with a game plan, but the Rockets figured one out right after their first batter.
JB used small ball to get runners on base, and Taryn Miller came through with what turned out to be the deciding hit in James Buchanan's 4-1 win over the Spartans in the first round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs.
The Rockets are now 18-4, which sets a school record for wins in a season. JB, the No. 5 seed, will face No. 4 Conrad Weiser (19-3) on Thursday at a time and place to be announced.
Shania Fogelsonger led off the bottom of the first for the Rockets with a bunt single to third and stole second base. She was left stranded on third, but it was a sign of things to come.
"It was one of the those things where we saw that we could have success with it," James Buchanan coach Eric Reed said of the small ball. "We thought that with our speed, we would have a real chance to make things happen."
In the second inning, Kayla Cummings led off with a bunt single, and Cara Bender followed with a sacrifice bunt. Carly Caron followed with a single between first and second to put runners on the corners. Abbie Doyka then dropped down another bunt, and Cummings raced home and was safe at the plate.
Fogelsonger, who finished 2-for-4, then slapped an infield single to shortstop to load the bases, and after an out, Miller came through in the clutch. She took the first pitch of the at-bat down the rightfield line, and it landed barely in fair territory for a three-run triple to give the Rockets a 4-0 lead.
"I didn't have a good at-bat my first time up, so I really just wanted to come through for my team," Miller said. "It was a big point in the game, so I jut wanted to come up and get it done."
"They are tough. They just hit," Garden Spot coach Julia Parmer said. "They put the ball in play, and they played a very nice game of small ball; it was tough to defend. It's easy to see why they're No. 5."
The rest of the game belonged to the Rocket pitching duo of Nina Shatzer and Miller. Shatzer was perfect in the first four innings, keeping the Spartans, who end the season with a 10-11 record, off balance. Not a single one of her outs in the first four innings reached the outfield, and she finished with four strikeouts.
"I thought I did OK. I feel like I could have been better," Shatzer said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates; they really made some great plays."
Reed said, "I can't say enough about what Nina did in those first four innings. We knew they were a good hitting team, but Nina did a great job."
But in the top of the fifth, the Spartans finally broke through. Brandi Clark led off the inning and got a second chance when the wind blew a foul ball out of the reach of Fogelsonger, and she took advantage. She roped a double to deep centerfield that Brooke Pittman nearly caught, giving Garden Spot its first hit of the game. Abby Frick then followed with an RBI single, prompting Reed to make a pitching change.
Miller came in, and the first batter she faced, Lainey Smith, reached on an error, but Miller got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched between a groundout. She gave up just one hit in three innings of relief, striking out three and giving up no runs despite three JB errors in the final three innings.
Miller said, "Nina was wonderful. I think the coaches just wanted to make an adjustment, and I think that's a great weapon for us to have two really good pitchers."
"I actually thought they had a better read on Taryn," Reed said. "I think they're more used to harder pitching, but when Taryn is hitting her spots, she is tough to beat."
Outside of the fourth inning, Garden Spot pitcher Taylor Martin was also solid. She gave up just four runs on seven hits and six strikeouts. Four of JB's hits didn't leave the infield.
"They definitely were small-balling us today, and they had a good day," Martin said. "I've never heard our dugout so loud, though. The team had a great attitude."
Parmer said, "Taylor has been solid for us all season. She had a nice game again today, we just didn't hit."
James Buchanan 4
Garden Spot 1
Garden SpotJames BuchananabrhbabrhbPetershm c3010Fglsngr 2b4120Foor 2b2000Pittman cf3010Martin p3000TMiller ss4013Clark cf3110Shatzer p2000Frick 3b3011Vaughn cr0000Smith dp3000CMiller 1b3000Nichols ss3000Cmmngs lf3110Shopf 1b3000Bender 3b2010Charles rf3000Caron c2110Brunson lf0000Kline rf0000Doyka ph3101Totals26161Totals26474
Garden Spot0000100—1James Buchanan040000x—4
E: GS 2, JB 3; LOB: GS 2, JB 8; 2B: Clark; 3B:T.Miller; SAC: Foor, Bender; SB: Vaughn, Fogelsonger; CS: Petersheim.
Garden Spot pitching
James Buchanan pitching
Shatzer (W, 10-4)421104T.Miller (S,2)310003