Chambersburg had such a promising start.
A leadoff single by Caeley Etter, a sacrifice bunt by Maggie Myers, another single from Leah Hunt. It all looked so good in the first inning of a PIAA Class AAAA softball semifinal on Monday afternoon.
With only one out, Hempfield Area got a little tricky, throwing a runner out at third, and from that point on, the Spartans were one error away from a perfect game. They eked out two runs to claim a 2-0 victory and their first trip to the state championship game since 1999.
“We had a lot of energy coming out with those first two hits that we had,” Etter said. “I definitely think whenever I got thrown out at third, it was just like, ‘Ah, crap.’ That was the lead run, and gave them two outs. But I think we still stayed up, we battled, and we worked our butts off this whole game.”
Unfortunately for Chambersburg, Hempfield Area ace Morgan Ryan was too much to handle, and unlike the Trojans (24-5), who seemed to falter as the game went on, Ryan only got stronger. Chambersburg had only one runner in scoring position all day - and it was Etter, the leadoff batter in the first inning.
“Definitely my job as a pitcher is to limit the runners,” Ryan said. “We did our research, and we knew that this Chambersburg team had a good lineup, but we knew what we needed to do to get the outs. My defense is strong behind me, and our goal was to keep them off the bases.”
Chambersburg’s only real opportunity was its opening chance. Etter started the game by drilling a hit over the second baseman’s head. Maggie Myers sacrificed her along with a bunt, and Hunt moved her to third with a single of her own.
But as Etter went to lead off the base during Dori Loukopoulos’ at-bat, Hempfield catcher Madi Stoner saw a chance. She quickly threw the ball down to third base, beating Etter’s slide back to the bag for the second out of the game.
“We work on speciality plays every practice, and when you need one and it comes through, it’s big,” Spartans coach Bob Kalp said. “That changed the complexity of the game. We haven’t had as many of those this year because people in our area have been bit so many times that they just hug the bases. That was certainly big right there, and got us out of trouble in the first inning.”
Hempfield finally broke things open in the fifth inning, when it had four of its six hits. The Spartans got on the board with an RBI single from Taylor Hoffman in the frame, and they added some insurance in the following frame. Chambersburg committed back-to-back errors to start the sixth before Jenna Osikowicz scored on a wild pitch.
“With two great teams battling, you can’t have that,” Trojan coach Chris Skultety said. “They made every play, and we didn’t. They made about five plays that normally would’ve been base hits for us, but it was just their day. We made a couple mistakes, they didn’t make any, and there’s the difference.”