ROYERSFORD – For the Dallastown softball team, the final score truly didn’t tell the entire story.
For most of the late afternoon and early evening, the Wildcats were locked in a tight, intense battle with District 1 champion Perkiomen Valley in a opening-round game of the PIAA Class AAAA softball tournament at Spring-Ford High School.
But in the bottom of the sixth, any momentum for some late-game heroics was severely deflated.
Perkiomen Valley sent 11 batters to the plate and erupted for eight runs in the inning as they went on to a 10-2 victory. Jordan Sell highlighted the inning when she belted a three-run homer over the left field fence.
"When you get to this level, you have to be great. We were OK," Dallastown coach Howie Merriman said. "We’re disappointed, but the underclassmen will learn from this and seniors will take what they can.”
The Vikings’ first four batters reached base in the sixth inning without hitting a ball out of the infield. From there, Ana Bruni added a two–run double and Rachel Helverson followed with a two-run single.
As a result, Perk Valley will meet Hazleton in a second-round game Thursday at a site to be determined.
Dallastown's season ended after an 18-5 season, but the squad dropped its final three games. The Wildcats entered the state tournament as the fourth seed after they lost the District 3 third-place game to Lower Dauphin Wednesday.
Dallastown managed to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning when Kelsie Merriman lined a single to left and Jaelynn Harbold followed with a blast to center, and a diving effort by Sell fell short.
Kalya Flemmens then smacked a sacrifice fly to center to score Merriman. But the Wildcats stranded Harbold to end the threat.
The Wildcats had some other potential scoring chances, but they couldn’t capitalize with a timely hit. Perk Valley starting pitcher Abby Wild, who had been the team’s workhorse all season, struck out six through five innings, and she had solid fielding behind her.
“I thought if we had attacked more, we would have had more success,” Howie Merriman said. “I thought we were a little hesitant at times. We did do a better job of adjusting toward the middle of the game.”
The Wildcats did respond with a run in the top of the seventh when Maggie Noll, who worked a leadoff walk, scored on Madisyn Johnson’s groundout. Flemmens had a pair of hits for Dallastown, which had five hits overall.
“We got punched in the mouth, but we didn’t quit,” added Howie Merriman. “We gave up more runs in that inning than we did all year as far as finishing games. It is certainly disappointing. (But) their pitcher pitched a good game."