The Pioneers were edged out by Yough, 1-0 in the PIAA Class AAA softball finals on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Video by John Buffone.
STATE COLLEGE — The common mantra of many of the teams heading into the PIAA Softball championship revolved around the excitement of getting to play in and experience the ultimate game of the 2016 season.
And for both schools in the Class AAA final, what an experience it was.
In a rain-delayed contest that went to the final out — and in particular the final inning — Cassidy Pearce’s seventh-inning RBI double was the difference as the Yough Cougars of District 7 upended District 3’s Lampeter-Strasburg Pioneers, 1-0, ending the Pioneers’ successful season at 26-3 and bid for a first-ever softball championship.
For Yough, meanwhile, the end result was unfortunately much sweeter.
“It feels fantastic because in our school no team has gotten this far,” Pearce, a senior, said afterward. “To have this one as my last game, because I’m not playing in college, it’s fantastic to come out on top.”
But for the Pioneers and their three senior starters — Robin Feaster, Bri Garber, and Jordan Weaver — what an experience their final season in blue and white has been.
“They just got the two hits when they needed to,” Weaver said of Yough, before contrasting how much her teammates mean to her with having a successful season. “The wins are nice, but getting to play with these girls is much better.”
Weaver (6K, 1BB) was dominant early on, matching wits with Yough ace Macy Mularski, who inversely got better and better as a nothing-nothing game progressed.
After Pearce’s one-out double chased home Olivia Miller, who also doubled, Lampeter-Strasburg aimed at tying the score in the bottom of the frame.
Robin Feaster led off with a grounder in the hole at short, the low throw allowing her safe at first for the last of three Yough errors.
Caroline Braungard then sacrificed Feaster to second, before Natalie Carson’s seeing-eye pop was snared by Aubrie Mance behind second base.
Mularski (4K, BB) then induced a dribbler off the bat of Delaney Groff in front of home plate, catcher Allie Harvey pouncing on it and throwing to first for the game-ending out.
Despite the three Cougar errors, Yough (22-3) played incredible defense, including Pearce’s sliding grab at the warning track to rob Braungard of extra-bases in the fourth.
“All I was focusing on was the ball, trying to feel for that warning track. … I felt it on the way down,” said Pearce with a laugh. “I didn’t care how bad I get hurt, if I hit the wall, all I want to do is catch that ball.”
L-S had opportunities early on. Bri Garber led off the first with a bunt single and was stranded at third when Delaney Baker’s shot down the left field line was snagged, again, by Pearce.
“I never lack confidence in my defense, I believe in them one hundred percent,” winning pitcher Mularski said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be any good. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The second and final hit for the Pioneers came in the third off the bat of Hanna Garber with two outs. Baker reached on an error, but Mularski got Weaver to swing and miss at a pitch outside to end the threat.
Weaver was phenomenal in the circle, however, retiring the first nine batters she faced.
Her defense was likewise sensational, with battery-sister Kylie Weaver throwing out Hanna Bach at second base in the fourth.
Centerfielder Jordyn Kondras snared two liners to centerfield, and Hanna Garber stopped a grounder in the hole at third, tagging a runner out at third, to help escape the top of the sixth.
The Pioneers couldn’t grab the momentum of the inning, however. Miller and Pearce did the damage in the seventh, and that was all for the Pioneers’ season.
But what a season, what a game, and what an experience it was.
PIAA CLASS AAA FINAL
Yough 1, Lampeter-Strasburg 0
Y 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 1 5 3
L-S 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 0
M. Mularski and A. Harvey; J. Weaver and K. Weaver.
WP — Mularski; LP — Weaver.
SO-BB — (Y) Macy Mularksi 4-1; (LS) Jordan Weaver 6-1
2B — Miller (Y), Pearce (Y)