STATE COLLEGE - The last thing Emily Strouse wanted to do as Central Mountain opened the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs against Manheim Township was pitch.
But, after a rough fifth inning for Rachael Shady, there she was pitching smack in the middle of a state playoff game.
Strouse kept (3-3) Manheim Township off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh and Shady helped score two runs as Central Mountain rallied to win 7-6 at Penn State's Beard Park.
"I was nervous and just wanted to get in there an help Rachael out," Strouse said. "I was confident I could help the team out."
The Wildcats, who scored 3 times in both and the sixth and seventh innings, advanced Central Mountain to play Souderton in the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs at a site and time to be determined.
Strouse entered in the middle of the fifth after Manheim Twp. tagged Central Mountain for two runs to take a 4-1 lead.
Shady gave up consecutive singles to open the inning. She then gave up a walk before consecutive doubles scored four runs. Shady was pulled after the doubles and said it was the best decision Central Mountain coach Dave Peters could have made.
"I knew Emily would be there to pick me up. She's a good pitcher," Shady said.
Strouse allowed a run before getting out of the fifth, but kept Manheim Township at bay the rest of the game.
Instead of hanging her head, Shady singled and scored a run in the sixth and hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh to tie the game at six runs apiece.
Moriah Lindsey followed with the game-winning single to right. She finished 3-for-5 with a run and two RBIs.
"It's a great feeling to know that I can still be there for my team," Shady said. "They were there for me and I just wanted to win for them."
Jordan Koler and Mariah Major provided plenty of spark for the CM offense, as they finished with four hits, two runs scored and a RBI.
Kaler connected with a double in the sixth and another in the seventh to score a run. Major reached base in her final three plate appearances.
Lindsey tripled and scored off Strouse's sacrifice fly for a 1-0 CM lead in the first inning.
"We started exactly how we wanted to," Central Mountain coach Dave Peters said. "It was a great start."
Shady's first walk of the game, which came in the third inning, helped Manheim Twp. score its first run and tie the game.
After opening the inning with a strikeout, Shady attempted to fight her way through a full-count, but eventually gave up the walk for Manheim Township's third baserunner on the day. Shady was able to get the next batter with a pop-out to centerfield, but gave up a double to Lacy Smith.
Smith repeatedly burned Central Mountain, hitting doubles in the third and fifth to score a total of three runs.
After getting through the third, Shady found herself in a similar position in the fourth, walking to the leadoff batter. Unlike the third in which Manheim Township was able to score, Shady pitched her way out of the jam without giving up a run.
Central Mountain returned the favor in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with three singles, but coming away with nothing after a bases-loaded bunt failed.
It was a different story in the fifth, when a combination of Shady struggling to find the strike zone and six Manheim Twp. hits helped give the Blue Streaks a 6-1 lead.
The Blue Streaks' first five hitters reached base with Smith and Kathleen Zogorski's back-to-back doubles scoring four runs and breaking the game open.
Smith, who drove in three runs in the game, also helped scored the Blue Streaks initial run with an RBI-double in the third.
"We came out and were in great shape," Manheim Township coach Kirk Luther said. "You never want to stop scoring, because you just don't know what's going to happen."
MNT 001 500 0-6 9 1
CMT 100 003 3-7 13 1
Rielly Gearhart and Alyssa Perkins. Rachael Shady, Emily Strouse (5) and Lauren Russell. WP: Strouse. LP: Gearhart.
Top Manheim Township hitters: Gearhart 2-3, 2 runs; Lacy Smith 2-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, run; Kathleen Zogorski 2-4, 2B, run, 2 RBI. Top Central Mountain hitters: Moriah Lindsey 3-5, 3B, run, RBI; Mariah Major 2-4; Jordan Koler 2-4, 2B, 2 runs, RBI; Rachael Shady 2-3, run, RBI.
Next: Central Mountain vs. Souderton, Thursday, TBA.