WILLOW STREET — With a lot on the line, some players laid-out more than most.
Penn Manor’s Julia Tappany broke-up Solanco pitcher Hanna Phillips’ no-hitter with two-outs in the seventh inning, dropping a single into the fringes of left field to plate the winning run in the Comets’ 1-0 victory Thursday in the District 3 Quad-A quarterfinals.
Tappany’s hit fell in-and-out of the glove of the Mares’ diving centerfielder, Abby Heidelbaugh, after she collided with left fielder Cait Armstrong and leaving both players with apparent injuries.
A resultant hush overcame what normally would have been a Comets’ jubilee celebration. Instead, members of each team came together in an outpouring of silent prayer and support as the Mares’ outfielders were taken away via ambulance.
The win nonetheless advances No. 3 Penn Manor (21-3) to next Tuesday’s semifinal versus No. 7 Dallastown (17-2) at a site and time to be determined. The Wildcats advanced with a 6-0 victory over No. 15 Wilson.
BEST PLAYERS IN THE CIRCLE
Solanco’s Phillips and Penn Manor’s Brittany Hook took things pitch-by-pitch at Garrett Field, both pitchers moving in-and-out and up-and-down like college students switching dorms.
With a third-inning strikeout of Solanco’s Sydney Sturgill, Hook (5K, 1BB), a sophomore, tallied career strikeout number 500 while managing to keep the Mares off the board.
“I’m really proud of that I guess,” Hook said, contrasting 500 strikeouts with a return-trip to the state tournament. “That was a goal for me personally in the beginning of the season and I just worked really hard for it.”
Conversely, Phillips (7K, 4BB), allowed just one baserunner through the first three innings, coming on an error in the second. The spirited freshman got into trouble with leadoff walks in both the fourth and fifth, however, despite holding the Comets hitless.
“She moves it really well and she hits her spots really well,” Tappany said, referencing Phillips’ quick-release.
In the decisive seventh, Samantha Duplissey worked the Comets’ third leadoff walk, courtesy runner Victoria Malpica moving to second on a sacrifice by Morgan Yingling.
“We seemed a little down, not sure why, but we needed to get up and as soon as we got up and started cheering, we got that energy back,” Hook explained of the late-inning rally, “and just getting that walk was big.”
Addy Long followed with a grounder off Phillips’ glove to second-baseman Kate Sheaffer, who threw to first for the out. Malpica scampered to third on the play, however, before coming in on Tappany’s game-winner.
BEST PLAYER IN THE FIELD
In Tappany’s first at-bat coming in the second inning, Armstrong, the Mares’ look-to senior, made a diving catch of a similar volley in left, stranding Yingling on second base.
Armstrong (2-for-3) also had a pair of solid singles off Hook, stealing second in the first inning before getting thrown-out by Duplissey in the fourth.
Brianna Firlein had the other base-hit for Solanco (17-6), which following back-to-back stellar performances from Phillips will look to regain its considerable momentum next year.
“The first pitch she (Phillips) threw this season to where she’s at now, she’s really not a freshman anymore,” said Solanco coach Brett Miller. “We’ll see in the offseason what she really wants to do. I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen but they (the players) still have to do it.”
The Comets, meanwhile, get to enjoy a second consecutive trip to states, but first they have Tuesday’s semifinal to consider.
“I’m so proud of my team, they never give up,” Hook said. “They’re here to win and that’s what they want to do, they hate losing as much as I do and we just have this drive to win, and it’s awesome.”