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Chambersburg ready to repeat

There were times this season when Leah Hunt and her teammates could have doubted Chambersburg's ability to return to the District 3 softball championship game.

The latest of those mettle-testing moments happened Wednesday, when the Trojans were laboring to maintain a late-inning lead against a surging Central Dauphin squad.

Just as it had done throughout the season, though, Chambersburg found a way to weather the rough patches. 

Hunt’s gritty complete-game outing in the circle and her pair of RBI doubles at the dish helped push the Trojans to a 5-3 victory over CD in their District 3 Class 6A softball semifinal at Carlisle Area High School.

The victory advances the No. 5 Trojans (17-5) to Thursday’s district title game at Messiah College against No. 3 Penn Manor (20-1). Chambersburg, which is making its district-record 17th appearance in the championship game, topped the Comets in last year’s Class 4A title tilt.

“We’re fighters,” Hunt said. “Whether we have to come out here and find a way or we’re given the one-seed right off the bat, we’re in here to play. When it comes down to it, a game’s a game.”

The Trojans were ready to play Thursday’s game, as they jumped on CD ace Sam Gress in a three-run first inning. Lexi Leedy got things going with a one-out single, and Alexis Estep and Hunt followed her with back-to-back doubles, the latter of those plating a pair of runs. Chambersburg tacked on a third run after a throwing error following Dori Loukopoulos’s single allowed Sam Bender to score.

“Getting three runs off Sam Gress is huge anytime, whether it’s first inning, second inning, or seventh inning,” Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. “We took a lot of extra batting practice the last two days. Getting those three runs settled us down and gave us a lot of confidence against her.”

Chambersburg carried a 4-1 lead into the sixth, but Central Dauphin broke through with four singles to make the score 4-3. Hunt notched a strikeout with two runners on to end the inning and limit the damage.

Hunt was again challenged in the seventh, when CD loaded the bases with two outs, but once again, though, Hunt found the solution.

This time Hunt induced a soft liner that was gloved by first baseman Bender, and the Trojans celebrated their return to the gold-medal game.

“We have all the confidence in the Goose,” Skultety said. “She just doesn’t get rattled, no matter if you hit a three-run homer or she has seven strikeouts, she’s the same pitcher out there and she’s going to do the same thing.”