Warrior Run's Tay Parker never thought about striking out 21 Southern Columbia hitters on Thursday afternoon, but that didn't stop those outside the fences from contemplating the idea, especially when the senior had 15 strikeouts through five innings.
Parker struck out the leadoff hitter in the sixth inning for strikeout No. 16, but Southern Columbia's Kristin Blass put the ball in play and was retired by a fly out to break Parker's streak that was only interrupted by a hit batter and walk.
The streak ended, then Parker's defense took care of the final five outs and the right-hander finished with a no-hitter and 16 strikeouts as the Defenders advanced to the District 4 Class AA softball final with a 3-0 win over Southern Columbia in a game that featured two of the 2012 state finalists from Class AA and Class A.
Carra Rishel (12) and Lynn Vermilya (13) wait with Warrior Run coaches Greg Watson, left, and Garth Watson, middle, Thursday at Elm Park.
"We didn't expect that," Warrior Run coach Garth Watson said. "We thought they'd put the ball in play a little more today. It is what it is. She looked pretty good (Thursday) and hopefully (today) it is the same thing."
Warrior Run (19-3), the defending District 4 Class AA champion, will play Loyalsock 4:30 p.m. today at Elm Park for the district championship. Only the winner will advance to the PIAA tournament.
The Lancers (17-5), who won the HAC-II regular-season title this season and beat the Defenders twice this year, defeated Central Columbia on Thursday, 4-2, in the day's first Class AA semifinal.
Parker didn't need much help against Southern, but she received some in the sixth inning when left fielder Katy Swartz covered a lot of green grass and flagged down the ball hit by Blass that appeared destined for the left-center field gap.
"That was amazing," Parker said. "As soon as she hit it, I knew she was going to catch it. Katy is an awesome left fielder and she usually catches anything and runs it down."
The Tigers didn't strike out again after Parker recorded her 16th strikeout, but that didn't stop her from recording her 19th career no-hitter.
"We couldn't catch up to her and she did a heck of a job," Southern Columbia coach Al Cihocki said. "We have a half-decent hitting team and we just didn't hit the ball. She had us handcuffed."
Parker hit Southern starting pitcher Mallory Tomaschik, the second batter of the game, in the leg and walked McKenna Lupold in the fifth inning but in between those two hiccups, Parker struck out 13 consecutive batters.
Tomaschik, who led Southern to the Class A state championship game last year before the Tigers moved up a classification this year, pitched well but surrendered single runs in the first, second and fifth innings. The Southern senior struggled with her command early and Gabby Shrawder led off the Warrior Run first with a walk and scored on a Devin Nicholas double that the left fielder first broke in on before it went over her head.
Laura Bastian (2 for 3) singled to right field in the second to score Lynn Vermilya and the Defenders, who defeated Southern for the third time this season, added an insurance run in the fifth when a Jackie Clemens opposite field fly ball was misplayed in left field for a double that scored the speedy Parker.
Southern Columbia000 000 0 - 0 0 1
Warrior Run110 010 x - 3 6 0
Mallory Tomaschik and Blair Johnston. Taylor Parker and Lynn Vermilya. WP - Parker. LP - Tomaschik.
Top Warrior Run hitters: Devin Nicholas 2B, RBI; Jackie Clemens 2b, RBI, Laura Bastian 2-3, RBI.
Records: Warrior Run 19-3, Southern Columbia 15-7. Next: Warrior Run vs. Loyaslock, today, 4:30 p.m., Elm Park.