Surprise homer part of Warrior Run rout
MUNCY – Warrior Run’s Cortney Stahl was resigned to a left-hand turn and jog back into the dugout after hitting a long fly ball in the top of the seventh inning on Thursday at Muncy.
Stahl slowed between first and second base, figuring she was the first out of the inning when head coach Garth Watson directed Stahl from third base with his right index finger to keep circling the bases.
The ball, which Stahl thought was caught in left field, was on the other side of the fence with the tall pine trees and a few scattered fans looking for some shade on the 80-degree day.
Stahl’s second career varsity home run was just part of a 16-hit Warrior Run attack as the Defenders ended the regular-season with a 13-0 win over HAC-III champion Muncy.
“It’s really nice because this is the most important time of the season to get our hits together,” said Stahl, a senior.
The Defenders (17-3) definitely strung them together against Muncy starter Amanda Kustanbauter, who had lost just twice entering Thursday.
Warrior Run had a hit in every inning and all but one starter had at least one. Add a little help from four Muncy errors, and the Defenders’ offense looked ready to enter the postseason.
Stahl finished with two hits, including a two-run double in the third inning that gave Warrior Run a 6-0 lead. Warrior Run’s No. 9 hitter was down 0-2 in the count and was in trouble of striking out for the second consecutive time before driving the two-out double.
Devin Nicholas led the Defenders with three hits, while Gabby Shrawder, Taylor Parker, Jackie Clemens, Lynn Vermilya and Katy Swartz all added two hits apiece.
“That is a great hitting team over there and they put the bat on the ball one through nine and they are backed up by good solid pitching and they made the plays in the field today,” Muncy coach Chris Ebner said.
Warrior Run’s pitching starts and ends with Parker. The senior allowed a leadoff hit to Crystal Good, but didn’t allow another while striking out 12. Good reached third base in the first inning before Parker retired the last two hitters via strikeout on six pitches.
Muncy (17-3) struggled to lay off Parker’s rising fastball once she got ahead in the count and struck out 11 times in the first five innings.
It was a tough ending to an unforgettable Muncy season that will continue in the District 4 Class A playoffs. The HAC-III champions will be the top seed in the district playoffs and could receive a bye into the semifinals, depending if an eighth team qualifies.
“This doesn’t change what they accomplished all year long in any shape or form,” Ebner said. “It’s not time to hit the panic button. We just have to come back and find our focus.”
The Defenders, who will be the top seed in the Class AA playoffs as they try and defend their title, were focused on the short left-field fence when they arrived off the bus.
“We all thought the fence here was shorter than most so we were like let’s all hit home runs,” Stahl said.
The final batter in the Warrior Run lineup may have been the least likely to hit one and her surprise rounding first base was proof of that.
“I actually had no idea I hit it,” she said. “I thought it was caught.”
It wasn’t and now Stahl has a bright yellow ball as a souvenir to remember it.
Warrior Run303 210 4 – 13 16 0
Muncy000 000 0 – 0 1 4
Taylor Parker and Lynn Vermilya. Amanda Kustanbauter and Crystal Good. WP – Parker. LP – Kustanbauter.
Top Warrior Run hitters: Gabby Shrawder 2-5, 2B, 3 runs; Devin Nicholas 3-4, 2B, 3 runs; Parker 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Jackie Clemens 2-5, 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 runs; Vermilya 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs; Katy Swartz 2-5, 2 RBIs, run; Cortney Stahl 2-4, HR (solo, 7th), 3 RBIs. Top Muncy hitter: Good 2B.
Records: Warrior Run 17-3, Muncy 17-3. Next: Warrior Run vs. TBA, District 4 Class AA playoffs; Muncy vs. TBA, District 4 Class A playoffs.