Clinton wins section softball title

LOCK HAVEN – Before Friday’s Section 3 championship game, the last time Clinton recorded a hit was in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game with Potter McKean.

A day off might have been just what the doctor ordered because the bats were resurrected against District 13 champ Milton and the District 12 champs punched their ticket to the state tournament with an 11-2 win.

“This feels awesome and these girls absolutely deserve it,” Clinton manager Eric Dershem said.

Emily Snyder led off the top of the first with a single and reached third base as Milton was looking for a similar start when the two teams locked up on Wednesday.

With one out, all the visitors needed was a deep fly ball or a hit in play.

They got neither.

“I thought we probably should have got that run in,” Milton manager Tim East said. “They’re only 11 and 12, so you have to take that into consideration. There were some times where signs were missed, but again they’re only 11 and 12, but they played hard and Clinton is a great team.”

Gabi Vuocolo put her mark on the game early with one of the plays of the day. Milton power hitter McKayla Shrock hit a hard grounder down the first-base line, but Vuocolo stopped it and didn’t allow Snyder to break for home. With two outs, Caitlyn Brush closed out the inning with a strikeout.

“That was a great play by Gabi and that girl (Shrock) hit a rocket right at her,” Dershem said. “Gabi did a great job getting in front of that and getting the out.”

Defense has been a strong point for Clinton, but Dershem has repeatedly expressed his displeasure about his team’s offense, lately.

This time, however, the coach had something to smile about.

Clinton reeled of three consecutive hits in the bottom of the first, starting with Brush’s single to right. Skylar Smith drove Brush in with another single and MaKenzie Peters recorded an RBI double.

“Well, I think we flip the script with every game,” Dershem said. “We decided to wake up at the plate tonight, which was huge. It’s great timing because this came around just in time for states. This builds confidence and it will continue to grow.”

Milton cut its deficit in half in the second inning when an Alise Goodwin double turned into a run with an error.

“Not only does she hit the ball, but she’s not the fastest runner,” East said. “So, for her to get around third and actually slide is what we were glad about. It was great.”

The highlights for Milton stopped there.

Clinton took control of the game with seven runs over the third and fourth innings. A big chunk of those runs came off Peters’ bases-clearing double in the fourth.

“We talked about being more aggressive at practice and we finally got a well-deserved practice,” the coach said. “We preached to them the whole time about staying positive. Step in the box, forget everything, trust your fundamentals, stay focused and have some confidence in there. I think we really showed that today.”

Clinton added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to reach the final of 11-2.

“Little League is about volunteering and it’s about girls like Caitlin Solomon on my team. A girl that shows up every day and works hard,” East said. “All of these girls gave 100 percent and we lose only two from this year’s team. Hopefully, we can meet up with Clinton again next year.”

Brush not only had a great day at the plate, but again, came up huge in the circle. Clinton’s ace fanned five batters, gave up two hits and went 2 for 3.

“She did a phenomenal job on the mound, again,” Dershem said. “

Clinton will play the Section 4 champ on July 10 in the state tournament in Stroudsburg.

Milton 010 010 – 2

Clinton 203 42X – 11

Caitlyn Brush to Josie Dershem. Jillian East to Rachelle Campbell. WP- Brush. LP- East.

Top Milton hitters: Alise Goodwin 2B, and Emily Snyder 1-3. Top Clinton hitters: Josie Dershem 2-3, Caitlyn Brush 2-2, 3B, 2 RBIs, MaKenzie Peters 3-3, 2 2Bs, 4 RBIs.

Next game: Clinton vs. Section 4 champ, 5 p.m., July 10 Stroudsburg.