LYONS — If the postseason is about taking advantage of opportunities, the Pequea Valley softball team definitely did that.
Unfortunately for the Braves, it was Pine Grove taking advantage of its opportunities Thursday afternoon at Lyons Park, ending Pequea Valley’s season in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals with a 6-2 victory.
“At the beginning of our season I would not have expected to be here even if someone told me that,” admitted Braves coach Amy Shay. “I’m proud of them and glad we made it this far, (but) certainly once you make it this far you’re hungry until the end.”
Pequea Valley’s season ends with a 17-8 record, an L-L Section Four title and a District 3 runner-up finish to go along with a first-round state victory over Conwell-Egan.
In that game, Braves’ junior pitcher Sabrina Ryan struck out 16 batters. Thursday, however, Pine Grove (22-6) had the answer with 10 hits and only six strikeouts to win going away.
“We have about two or three pitchers in the Colonial League up there similar to her,” said Cardinals’ coach Ryan Leffler. “It really helped out the game plan going in. We had to stay off the rise ball … and when she came in the zone we hit the ball well.”
That started in the bottom of the first inning when Cardinals’ freshman pitcher Liv Lehman ripped a two-run double off her counterpart, plating Kate Rittenbaugh and Jen Kaufman with the game-tying and go-ahead runs.
Lehman, the fifth of five straight left-handers in the Cardinals lineup, was equally effective in the circle with seven strikeouts and no walks, keeping the Braves batters off-balance after being staked with the lead.
Pequea Valley got on the board in the top of the first on Kaitlyn Diluzio’s two-out single that scored Alee Feister, who led off with a double.
Feister, one of three seniors on the Braves’ squad along with Olivia Weaver and Lenea Riehl, finished the game 3-for-3, including an RBI single in the top of the second to plate Riehl and knot the score 2-2.
But Pine Grove retook the lead in the third inning when Kaufman stole home on an in-play double-steal, Mackenzie Hasenauer getting into a rundown following a sac-bunt single to allow Kaufman to take home.
Kaufman was a prickly pine cone for Pine Grove, finishing the game 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and pair of stolen bases, scoring three runs.
“If we see a base open, we’re going, and going to take advantage of it,” Leffler said of the double-steal. “Very well executed by the girls.”
“We knew that they ran the bases well and are aggressive. We didn’t keep up defensively with that,” Shay said. “They (Pine Grove) have a nice little team.”
Pine Grove tacked on from that point, Trish Kopinetz’ double to right capping the third before Caitlyn Becher and Kopinetz had RBI singles in the fifth for the final margin.
Pine Grove will play Holy Redeemer in Monday’s semifinals. Holy Redeemer defeated the other team out of District 3, Kutztown, in the quarterfinals, 6-1.
PIAA SOFTBALL AA QUARTERFINAL
Pine Grove 6, Pequea Valley 2
Pequea Valley 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 — 2 5 1
Pine Grove 2 0 2 0 2 0 x — 6 10 1
SO-BB — PV, Sabrina Ryan 6-2; PG, Liv Lehman 7-0
2B — PV, Alee Feister; PG, Trish Kopinetz