BLOOMSBURG - Pennsbury captured a 6-1 win over Williamsport to open the PIAA Class AAAA softball playoffs Monday, thanks to a strong outing by pitcher Val Buehler and timely hits from third baseman Christina Bascara.
Buehler struck out two, scattering five hits and allowing just the single run through seven innings.
The Falcons pitcher limited damage in the second inning and was tagged for a leadoff double by Alexis Bower in the third. But, from that point on, Buehler was nearly flawless, allowing just one base runner the rest of the day, which came on a four-pitch walk to Alexis Bower in the fifth.
"We weren't sharp defensively and pitching like we normally are," Williamsport coach Quint Bower said. "They put the ball in play and we didn't make the plays we normally make. Pennsbury made all their plays today."
Bower's double to open the third marked Williamsport's last inning with a hit and started a surge by Buehler in which she retired Williamsport in order in three of the last four innings.
And with their pitcher doing her job in the circle, the Falcons' offense responded, posting five of their six runs through the third and fourth innings until adding one in the sixth.
A hit batter opened the third, which Pennsbury immediately made Bower pay for when Bascara ripped and RBI double down the left field line, tying the game at 1.
"We always talk about how you can't allow a shutdown inning and have to answer back," Pennsbury coach Kurt Kramp said. "They answered back and that was huge for us."
After two quick outs the Falcons continued to produce, scoring Bascara on a Danielle Litwin single and driving in another run with a Farryl Groder double.
The offense continued to come for Pennsbury when MacKenzie Obert opened the fourth with a triple. Obert finished the game going 2 for 4, making her one of three Falcons with multiple hits.
A batter later, Bascara connected with a triple that easily scored Obert, while giving Pennsbury another runner in scoring position.
"It was definitely a good pick up, knowing that everybody was able to get the back-to-back hits," Bascara said. "It was big to get that rally going."
Bascara didn't have to stand on third long, scoring on a wild pitch over the catcher's head during the next at-bat.
"The offense was on," Buehler said. "We knew we needed to score a run to win and it was good a get a few."
Williamsport's offense got going in the second inning when Kaitlyn Caringi and Dru Heller opened with back-to-back singles. A Heather Inners sacrifice bunt then advanced both runners a base, while a Cashe Comfort walk loaded the bases. Tiana McCormick tagged Buehler for a run from the nine-spot with bloop single, giving Williamsport its lone tally of the contest.
"When we had the bases loaded we needed to capitalize," Bower said. "We only came out with one run and we needed more. That was big for their pitcher and the defense."
"Getting out of that inning was really big for us," Kramp said. "The kids dug deep and really did a nice job."
Once on the board Williamsport's surge fizzled as Buehler got two groundouts to end the inning, giving up just one run despite facing a bases loaded, one-out situation.
"It's a sticky situation," Beuhler said. "You know you have to get out it and limit damage."
Pennsbury 003 201 0-6 9 0
Williamsport 010 000 0-1 5 2
Val Buehler and Jordyn Hunnke. Alexis Bower and Heather Inners. WP-Buehler. LP-Bower.
Top Pennsbury hitters: Christina Bascara 2-4, 2B, 3B, 2 runs, 2RBI; Dani Litwin 2-3, run, RBI; Farryl Groder 2B. Top Williamsport hitters: Bower 2-2, 2 2B.
Records: Williamsport 18-6. Pennsberry 21-4.