Chambersburg falls to Hempfield in PIAA semis for 2nd straight year
Prior to Monday's PIAA Class 6A semifinal softball game between Chambersburg and Hempfield Area, both coaches agreed that a handful of runs were going to win it.
No one would have guessed that 15 total runs would cross the plate in a rematch of last year's semifinal.
But a combination well-placed infield hits, and a strong defense behind Gatorade Player of the Year Morgan Ryan, granted Hempfield Area a 11-4 win over Chambersburg to punch its ticket to the state title game for the second straight year.
"When you jump up early you have to guard against relaxing," Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. "And it wasn't Morgan's best day, and when that happens it's nice that we can go bananas with the offense to make up for it."
Hempfield plated four runs in the bottom of the first inning to give the Spartans some much-needed momentum as they tried to preserve their perfect 26-0 season. But Chambersburg (25-6) responded in the top of the second with three of its own, and retired Hempfield with the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning.
"Our first inning was kind of rough but we usually try to figure it out halfway through the lineup," Chambersburg's Sammie Bender said. "Three runs is easy to come back from, just a few base hits. We had confidence that we could come back."
Bender and Laken Myers had back-to-back singles, followed by an RBI double from Caeley Etter to center to kick things off for the Trojans. Maggie Myers followed with a two RBI single, but was caught stealing second after the throw home.
"I feel like a lot of us got complacent and that's kind of hard to bite down, but you live and you learn," Bender said. "We all tried our best but there's a few things that if we all could go back and change we would."
"It just wasn't our day," Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. "We hit the ball hard, all over the place, and when we hit a bleeder it didn't fall, and when they had all of their infield hits fall. That's the story of the ballgame."
Four errors hurt Chambersburg as Hempfield worked the infield hits, especially in the gap between third and short. Just one batter in the Spartans lineup did not register a hit, while six batters had two or more.
"We got bled to death with infield hits," Skultety said. "Six infield hits and four errors aren't going to win any ball games. We hit a lot of shots right to people and into double plays. We got four runs off of Morgan Ryan, but the way we hit the ball, we should have had seven or eight."
Hempfield turned two double plays to halt Chambersburg's momentum in the middle innings.
"I knew that every girl in that Chambersburg lineup was going to be a tough out," Ryan said. "And any one of them could have put the ball in play, so my defense came through a lot and those double plays saved us from a couple more runs coming through."
In the third, Hempfield brought four runs across to seal it, and tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth innings. A leadoff walk and a bunt set the stage for Ali Belgiovane for a two-RBI triple to center. Jenna Osikowiez and Ryan followed with RBI singles.
Ryan, Jordan Bernard and Belgiovane each had a pair of RBIs, while Osikowiez, Autumn Beasley and Stacey Walling each brought one run in.
Laken Myers pitched the first three innings for Chambersburg and registered three strikeouts, including two in the second inning to leave Hempfield stranded with the bases loaded. Bender pitched two innings, with one strikeout. Leah Hunt closed it out for the Trojans in the sixth.