Chambersburg has 'déjà vu moment' before PIAA semifinals
Check out the top moments from Chamberbsurg's 4-2 win over Latrobe in the first round of the PIAA 6A softball tournament. Video by Lindsey Smith
Last year's journey to the PIAA semifinals was a pleasant surprise for Trojan fans - and while a loss to the eventual state champions ended Chambersburg's dream season, it was also a preview of what the Lady Trojan softball team was capable of.
Flash forward one year, and Chambersburg has earned a second chance versus the Hempfield Area Spartans on the same field at Mt. Aloysius College in an epic PIAA semifinal rematch straight out of Greek Mythology.
And with last year's 2-0 loss in mind, the Trojans will come ready to battle for their first state title game berth since 2004.
But how much can a team change in one year?
Both Hempfield Area and Chambersburg return a talented core - namely in the pitching circle. But the Trojans, who forged to last year's state semifinal with a young group of players, boast something more than lights-out pitching and a strong batting order: maturity and confidence.
"I'm pretty sure for a number of us this is a mega déjà vu moment, only hopefully it turns out a bit different this time," Chambersburg's Leah Hunt said. "Our batting has really matured at this point, we handle better pitching very well up and down the lineup, especially lately."
In its last five games, Chambersburg has faced some of the top pitchers in the state - Kara Cook, Sam Gress, Brittany Hook and Abby Wild - just to name a few, and has found its way around all of them.
But now, the Trojans must face the Gatorade Pennsylvania Softball Player of the Year, Morgan Ryan. She has helped the Spartans achieve an unbelievable 37-game winning streak dating back to last season, and is 18-0 this year with a 0.94 ERA.
"You're only going to get better pitching - it's the state playoffs and that's what happens," Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. "The bats are there and the girls are capable, they're just going to have to just come with an approach and be confident."
And as the postseason continues Chambersburg's confidence grows. Thursday in its PIAA quarterfinal game against Perkiomen Valley, Chambersburg made back-to-back errors to put runners in position with a chance to tie the game - but the Trojans responded with three three quick outs to get out of the jam.
"We've been in a position before where errors have hurt us tendentiously, and I think throughout the season we have overcome that as a team," Chambersburg's Sammie Bender said. "It was a huge improvement for us because usually we would get down on ourselves, especially with no outs and in the beginning of an inning, but we were able to pick each other up."
And although the Trojans will have an up-hill battle with Hempfield Area, Chambersburg has the tools to move on and battle for that elusive state championship.
"I think we are ready," Skultety said. "The girls know what to expect now. We will go back to game planning, and if we can get three runs like we did (in the quarterfinals), I think the first two or three is going to win that game."