Williamsport Junior Softball dominates in winning title

MONTGOMERY – After Williamsport recorded its final out of the second inning, coach Eric Holzapfel said, “Another good inning ladies.”

That was an understatement. Williamsport scored 10 runs in the first two innings en route to an all-around dominant effort as it captured the District 12 Junior softball championship with a 16-0 win over Jersey Shore Thursday night. It was Williamsport’s second straight win over Jersey Shore as it won Wednesday, 9-5 to force last night’s game. Williamsport moves on to Section 3 play next week where it will play the District 15 champion.

“Last year we had a team that we thought was going to states and we ended up not making it to the District championship game,” said Eric Holzapfel. “I felt like that a lot of girls wrote this team off because we had some key injuries to Gabby Thomas and Alexis Griess who were big key players and these girls have showed everybody, proved everybody they can do it.”

Williamsport proved it right from the beginning and in a big way, as it scored six first-inning runs. Cali Shields led off the game with a first-pitch triple and the next three batters followed with three straight base hits including Aimee Holzapfel’s two-run single to make it 2-0. After Taylor Mazzullo scored on an error, Sara Plankenhorn knocked in two more with a double to make it 5-0. Erika Talini knocked in the final run with a single. Williamsport had six hits and 10 plate appearances in the inning.

Williamsport added four more runs in the second, two coming on Holzapfel’s double. The other two came on a bases loaded walk and a sac fly by Mikenna Cimini. Through the first two innings, Williamsport had 10 runs, eight hits and 19 plate appearances, Jersey Shore had 18 plate appearances to finish the game.

“We want to put it to them right from the beginning so that they get there heads down,” said Eric Holzapfel. “And it helps our pitching out tremendously when we get a lead.”

It could have been a one-run lead and it wouldn’t have made a difference to Skyler Calarusso, who pitched a complete game with just five base runners and striking out three, including the final two batters. She hit her spots and let her defense do the rest of the work.

“Skyler has been tremendous all year long, we’ve been using her, she’s been my number one pitcher all year long throughout the regular season. And with Little League going to the new rule that they (pitchers) don’t need a day’s rest has really helped us… just, Skyler’s been tremendous this whole season long.”

Calarusso got caught in an early bases loaded jam in the first with one out. But it was the left fielder, Talini, who got Williamsport out of the jam with a nice back handed catch and threw out a Jersey Shore base runner at third to end the inning. It was the second straight night Talini made a big catch in the outfield to save some runs.

Williamsport played error-less defense and received strong contributions from shortstop Makenzie Cannon, who had a double play of her own and Plankenhorn who played first base flawlessly.

“It was very, very awesome compared to what we went through when we played these guys the time before. We made error after error,” said Eric Holzapfel. “Like I told the girls, they did the complete package tonight. This was probably one of the best games that I’ve ever managed and have players do what they were supposed to do.”

The first time these two teams met, Jersey Shore won 14-5 but has since dropped the last two and couldn’t get on track last night and was down by six before the offense had a chance.

“When you catch fire like that there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Jersey Shore coach Josh Ewing.

No matter what the score, Jersey Shore continued to battle and had competitive fire, but the whole time they were having fun and playing their hardest.

“These girls, were getting beat 10 nothing, 11 nothing, 13, 15, they were still smiling, still enjoying the game and I told them that’s all we care about is that they have fun,” said Ewing. “I told them at the very end is what I love about all-stars is I get to coach girls that I’ve never coached before…I love it, I really do.”

Williamsport 644 02- 16 11 0

Jersey Shore 000 00- 0 3 5

Skyler Calarusso and Aimee Holzapfel. Sammy Ewing, Gabi Vuocolo (1st) and Jocelynn Barr. W- Calarusso. L- Ewing.

Top Williamsport hitters: Cali Shields 1-4 3B, R; Aimee Holzapfel 2-4 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R; Skyler Calarusso 0-1 3 BB, 4 R; Sara Plankenhorn 1-2 2B, 3 RBI; Taylor Mazzullo 4-4 2B, 3 R, SB; Olivia Keyes 1-1 2 RBI, SB. Top Jersey Shore hitters: Gabi Vuocolo 2-2; Brook Potter 1-2.

Record: Williamsport (4-1) Next: Williamsport vs. District 15 Champion at District 13 (July 16, 5:30)