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Bender's no-hitter lifts Chambersburg to MPC crown

There was a lot to talk about Tuesday after the Chambersburg softball team's 11-1 win over Carlisle.

How about Sammie Bender throwing a no-hitter?

Or a walk-off hit from Chambersburg's top batter, Leah Hunt?

Or a mercy-rule division victory over the Thundering Herd?

But let's start with the big one.

The Lady Trojans are Mid Penn Commonwealth Champions, at last.

It has been six years in the making, but Chambersburg finally has another Mid Penn Commonwealth championship, and its first outright title since 2006.

"That's the Chambersburg team I know, and that's the team that is going to go far in the playoffs if they maintain that right there," Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. "I'm excited we finally showed up. The first couple innings I was a little nervous, then the emotion picked us back up."

After three slow innings, the Lady Trojans got their bats ready, sending home six runs off five hits in the bottom of the fourth, and forced three Carlisle pitching changes to throw the Herd's defense off balance.

After scoring six in the fourth inning, Chambersburg (16-2, 11-1 MPC) entered the bottom of the fifth with a chance to put it away thanks to the 10-run rule, and with the bases loaded, the one batter the team would want in that position walked up to the plate.

"No way I'm taking Leah Hunt out," Skultety said.

Hunt hit a grounder that took a bad hop between short and third for the two runs Chambersburg needed to officially claim the MPC crown in five innings.

"I'm glad I could come through considering I grounded out the first two times, and that I could be there for them whenever they needed me," Hunt said.

And while the Chambersburg offense went to work, Bender was in the circle throwing a gem, striking out seven batters. She walked one and hit one batter, both in the first inning.

"Sam is going to get the ironwoman award for sure. Once she settled in, it was lights out," Skultety said. "After the first couple innings she got in her groove and there was no chance of them getting a hit. We did make a couple of nice plays defensively."

"I have to be honest I didn't even know I threw a no-hitter until (Skultety) told me," Bender said. "It was really exciting for our school and our program because we haven't done this in a while. It was really exciting to know that I was a part of that with my team, and throwing a no-hitter, we sort of made a statement with that."

Carlisle's only run of the game came in the first inning after Bender walked the leadoff hitter. Cayla Abbey advanced to on a wild pitch and scored from second on a dropped third strike ball.

Carlisle coach Doc Maurice said, "We're in the toughest division in the state, and when you have to compete with that you have to get better. But we made up our mind that we were going to be aggressive and that's what we have to do."

"Even though we clinched (the MPC) we want the No. 1 seed in districts; that's our next goal," Skultety said. "We've accomplished two goals now (Big Spring tournament, Mid Penn Commonwealth championship)."