MILLERSVILLE — The merits of slow versus fast pitching can always be debated in regard to high school softball, but there’s no argument about the importance of an athletic defense.
Despite putting the ball in play with perfunctory ease Thursday afternoon, the Pequea Valley Braves unfortunately had nothing to show for it except for silver runner-up medals and a second-place trophy after being no-hit by Kutztown, 2-0, in the District 3 AA title game at Millersville University.
The No. 3 Cougars (17-6) scored an early first-inning run off Braves’ starter Sabrina Ryan (10K, 1BB), and from there Kutztown freshman hurler Katie Calkins missed barrels to preserve the win.
“Well, that’s the beauty I guess of a junk ball pitcher,” said PV head coach Amy Shay. “She obviously kept us off balance. We put the ball in play, and I was pleased with that and thought at some point breaks would go our way.”
The No. 4 Braves (16-7) swung aggressively at an array of Calkins’ tantalizingly slow pitches, making first-pitch outs seven times in the game. Calkins (1K, 1BB) threw just 58 pitches in the no-hitter, as her defense helped her out both early and late.
In the first two innings, Alee Feister, Kaitlyn Diluzio, and Lenea Riehl all hit medium deep shots to centerfield where the Cougars’ Ashley Donat simply needed to take a few steps back or to her right to make all-important grabs.
Donat (1-for-2, BB, 2R) figured in the Kutztown scoring, as well, leading off the first on a bunt single, stealing second, and scoring on senior Maria Meigio’s two-out single up the middle following a long at-bat.
Ryan racked-up seven of her ten strikeouts in the first three innings, including the side in the third, while setting down twelve batters in a row until a two-out bloop single off the bat of Kayla Fritz in the fifth.
But leading off the sixth, Donat, the lefty slapper, worked a walk upon forcing nine Ryan pitches. On Megan Parks’ subsequent sacrifice, catcher Tara Doratt’s throw went off the glove of Lenea Reihl at first base. Riehl recovered, throwing to third base in an attempt to snare the lead runner, but the throw went high, allowing Donat to score.
To Shay, however, that extra run meant little as her team was unable to plate a run of their own.
“I’m real thrilled to be here,” Shay began. “Somebody has to walk away with a loss, unfortunately, and if you don’t put at least one run up it’s a tough time winning the game.”
Senior Olivia Weaver was the only runner to reach base for the Braves, reaching on a groundball error to shortstop in the third — she was stranded at third after a pair of sacrifices — and a two-out walk in the fifth.
In the top of the seventh, a pair of groundouts brought up Sophia Weaver, whose opposite field blooper found the glove of a sliding Jillian Siefert to end the game and put Kutztown in celebration mode.
Winners of their eighth district title, the Cougars will face District 12 runner-up Philadelphia Academy Charter (15-3) on Monday, while on the surface Pequea Valley gets a break with District 12 champ Conwell-Egan (9-12). But Egan, which dropped a 1-0 first-round game a year ago to then runner-up Kutztown, is coming in having won five straight District 12 titles.
“We played them (Egan) in the past,” Shay said. “Anytime you’re playing in June I think you’ve had a good season. We made it to states so we have a state game to look forward to.
“This isn’t the end-all, but certainly you come into this game wanting to win it.”
District 3 AA Final at Millersville University
Kutztown 2, Pequea Valley 0
PV 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 0 2
KT 1 0 0 0 0 1 x — 2 4 1
SO-BB — PV Sabrina Ryan 10-1; KT Katie Calkins 1-1
WP — Calkins; LP — Ryan