Upon arrival at Mount Aloysius College, it was easy to get lost in a sea of navy blue.
Despite being a solid two-hour drive from home, hundreds of Chambersburg fans swarmed the softball field, anxiously awaiting a PIAA Class AAAA semifinal against Hempfield Area.
It was the first time their beloved Trojans had been to this stage since 1997, and although they suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Spartans, it made no difference to the Trojan faithful. Fans erupted in cheers following the game, showing off their pride for just how far Chambersburg went this season.
“Fans are fantastic, and ours travel well,” Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. “Early in the year, there weren’t so many - maybe they didn’t know what to expect - but when people heard about this team, they started to come out more and more. It’s fabulous for them to travel two hours and have this fan support. They’re proud of these girls, almost as much as I am.”
Trojan pitcher Sam Bender said, “We never get many fans at Norlo (their home field). It’s so out of the way, so it’s usually just our parents and our grandparents, and they have to come. (This) is exciting for us, and it’s exciting (for the fans). It helps us, and makes us proud to have this kind of support from our community. It makes us want to play better.”
BENDER ‘DESERVED BETTER’: Bender put on a show for the Trojan faithful.
Although she took the loss, Bender threw six innings and allowed just six hits and one earned run. Four of those six hits came in a single inning, and Bender retired the side in order twice.
“She pitched a great game,” Skultety said. “Sam was at no fault. She deserved a better fate than what she got. But again, two great teams, and something little is the difference in the game.”
UNUSUAL OUT: In the fifth inning, Hempfield Area strung together four straight hits, and despite two girls crossing home plate, the Spartans had only one run to show for it.
After what looked like an RBI single from Alexa Pastor, Skultety immediately called a conference with the umpires.
The run was taken away from Ali Belgiovane, as it was determined that she was touched by her coach on the way down the third-base line. According to an umpire, that is considered assisting a runner and the runner is immediately called out.
RUNS ARE HARD TO COME BY: By blanking Chambersburg, Hempfield Area has not allowed a run for four straight games now. The Spartans have not been scored on during the state tournament.
The Spartans are also chasing down another record. The win over Chambersburg tied the school record for wins in a single season. Hempfield (24-2) will face Avon Grove (24-3) at 5:30 p..m. Thursday in the championship game at Penn State.