Craig Weaver couldn't be upset with the situation as he stood in the third-base coach's box. His Montgomery team had the bases loaded, nobody out, and trailed by two runs.
He considered trying to steal a run or two with a squeeze bunt the way Northeast Bradford picked up its first run in the second inning, but felt it didn't fit with his personnel.
Not even the scoreless result of that inning, which ended the Red Raiders' season, could change Weaver's mind, he wanted the bottom of his lineup swinging away.
Panthers relief pitcher Chelsea Souto picked up her fifth and sixth strikeouts for the first two outs and got a weak pop up to shortstop Taylor Keefe to pick up the save in Northeast Bradford's 2-0 win at Elm Park.
The win was a little measure of revenge for Northeast Bradford after Montgomery knocked beat the Panthers in both the District 4 and East Region finals a year ago on its way to becoming the PIAA Class A runner-up.
"(Montgomery) is a little different team without (former pitcher Casey Drick)," Northeast Bradford head coach Gary Hennip said. "But they play very sound, fundamental softball. But it is nice to follow up that last year with a good victory over them."
Northeast Bradford beat Montgomery Tuesday with pitching. Starting pitcher Haylie Phillips struck out 11 batters in five innings before being pulled on a day where the heat index reached the mid-90s.
Phillips and Souto combined to record 16 of the 21 outs by strikeout. Montgomery had just two hits and six baserunners.
"We picked a poor time to not be able to hit," Weaver said. "You an say maybe a bunt here or there, and we tried that, but the bottom line is you have to hit to win the ballgame and we didn't."
Montgomery looked overmatched by Phillips and Souto. The Red Raiders had trouble catching up to the fastball and when trying to catch up to, chased risers around their eyes.
Twelve of the Montgomery strikeouts came swinging, and at one point, the Red Raiders struck out in seven consecutive at-bats between the fourth and sixth innings.
Montgomery was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and four of those at-bats came in the seventh inning where the first three Red Raider batters reached base. Kiersten Warzel walked to leadoff the seventh and Kaitlyn Warzel singled between third and short to put runners on first and second. Kaylie Harer then blooped one over the pitcher's circle which Keefe tried to shovel to second for an out. But the ball was dropped and all the runners were safe.
"We're down 2-0 and we have the bases loaded and nobody out and not being able to get a run across was tough," Weaver said. "I considered a bunt there, it just didn't fit the situation."
"We try to hit spots with our pitchers and they throw the ball hard," Hennip said. "We try to move it in and out and up and down, but we were throwing mostly fastballs and not too many change-ups today."
Montgomery pitcher Rebecca Hite stranded a runner on third in both the third and fifth innings, and had a runner doubled off third when umpires ruled she failed to tag up on a sacrifice fly in the fourth. Three of the Panthers' eight hits were triples that would have been homers on a field with a fence, and the Panthers weren't always able to capitalize on their opportunities.
But in the bottom of the sixth, holding a 1-0 lead, Nikki Emick launched a rocket to left-center field and circled the bases for a 2-0 lead and a crucial insurance run.
"Our hitters hit some bombs," Hennip said. "But in this park with no fences, it's a little different game with no fences."
"We had a couple pitches that got away from us, but in the long run it didn't hurt us too much," Weaver said.
Montgomery000 000 0 - 0 2 1
NE Bradford010 001 x - 2 8 2
Rebecca Hite and Kaitlyn Warzel. Haylie Phillips, Chelsea Souto (6) and Nikki Emick. W-Phillips. L-Hite. S-Souto.
Top Montgomery hitters: Kaitlyn Warzel, 2-3. Top Northeast Bradford hitters: Alisha Parks, 2-3; Makalah Holbert, 2-3; Phillips, 1-3, triple; Emick, 2-3, triple home run, RBI, run; Taylor Keefe, 1-2, triple, run; Calla Martin, RBI.