Ohl leads Bulldogs past Millionaires in softball

Five straight Williamsport batters delivered hits and loaded the bases. There were no outs and Jersey Shore held a slim one-run lead that appeared would soon be erased.

Montana Ohl remained unfazed. The Jersey Shore pitcher never changed her expression, never showed any negative response. She enjoyed the pressure, she embraced the moment.

And then Ohl owned that moment.

Ohl retired the next three batters, preserving that one-run lead and stranded another tying runner on third an inning later as Jersey Shore defeated Williams­port, 5-3 Thursday at Elm Park. Ohl threw a six-hitter, Arizona Shreck went 3 for 4 and Jersey Shore collected 11 hits as this young team with no seniors recorded its most impressive win this season.

“I kind of like pressure. I don’t mind being under pressure, so I was pretty confident,” Ohl said. “That’s a really big win for us. We’re pretty excited about that.”

Jersey Shore (4-3) was excited after scoring three two-out runs in the top of the fourth and taking a 4-0 lead. Williamsport, though, came thundering back, opening the inning with five straight hits and putting six straight baserunners on after Elaina Stone walked. The Millionaires (3-3) produced 56 hits in their last four games, including 15 in Wednesday’s 9-4 win against State College and looked poised to break things open.

Instead, Ohl and her defense came up huge. Ohl, a first-time varsity pitcher, induced a grounder to shortstop Brianna Herman who threw home to Shreck for a forceout. Shreck then made a terrific play on a Kalindi Maggs bunt. Shreck hustled after the ball, then dove back to home, beating the runner by a step. Ohl ended the threat by fielding a grounder back to the pitching circle.

An inning later, Kaylee Hornberger (2 for 4) hit a lead-off single and reached third with one out, but Ohl induced the team’s No. 3 and 4 hitters into hitting inning-ending groundouts. Ohl took a perfect game into the fourth inning, and did not allow another hit after Hornberger’s fifth-inning single.

“I was just trying to hit my spots,” Ohl said. “Doing that is critical. The defense was phenomenal.”

“We’ve been on Montana and I can’t be more proud of the way she’s rising up,” Jersey Shore coach Dan Lazorka said. “They made adjustments in the batter’s box based on what Montana was throwing. We then made adjustments based on their adjustments. At the end of it, Montana trusted us enough to say this is where I’m going to throw it because we know what they’re doing. As long as we can trust each other this journey can be pretty rewarding at the end and good things can happen.”

Thursday’s win could be a launching pad for a talented team that has mostly new starters after Jersey Shore won a second straight District 4 Class AAA championship last year. Seven different players delivered hits and the Bulldogs showed intensity on the field and in the dugout as it continued jelling.

Jersey Shore scored all five runs with two outs and took a 1-0 third-inning lead when Herman (2 for 4) hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on Shreck’s single. Williamsport was an out from escaping the fourth inning unscathed before McKenna Russell hit a one-out RBI single that scored Gabby Vuocolo. Ashlynn Wool and Daytona Wentzel followed with an RBI single and double, respectively, and Jersey Shore took a 4-0 lead.

Wentzel (2 for 3) ignited another two-out rally in the sixth inning, hitting a single. Herman also singled and Wentzel scored on an error, making it 5-3.

“The enthusiasm and support in this dugout was phenomenal and as well as they played fundamentally, the support there transcended on there onto the field,” Lazorka said. “Williamsport is a great team and a very disciplined team. They never gave up and dropped their heads so to come out and be able to do that against a team that well-coached, we’re optimistic about where we can go from here. When you battle a good athletic team like this that makes those adjustments and bounce back and adjust again that is where the maturity starts coming.”

Williamsport, like Jersey Shore, is a young team and has six new starters. Williamsport hit the ball hard throughout the game, but often line drives went right to Jersey Shore defenders.

Five Millionaire hits came in that fourth inning when Hornberger ignited the rally with an infield single. Sammi Reeder followed with an RBI double and Cali Shields then hit an RBI single. Skyler Colarusso singled and Katie Meale made it a one-run game, following with an RBI single.

“I told them after the game you have to tip your hat to Jersey Shore for making the plays. We hit it hard and they made the plays,” Williamsport coach Quint Bower said. “We’re always disappointed with a loss, but we can take a positive from it. They didn’t give up. That’s two consecutive games with State College and Jersey Shore where they had a fire lit under them for seven innings.”

Yesterday’s game was the renewal of a rivalry between two of District 4’s most tradition-laden programs. Jersey Shore and Williamsport play again in a few weeks in Jersey Shore. Thursday’s rivalry game may have been just what the Millionaires needed, too.

In its first five games, Williamsport either won by five or more runs or lost by four or more runs. This game felt like a playoff-like atmosphere and was tight the whole afternoon. That can only help, moving forward.

“It’s nice to have this rivalry back,” Bower said. “What I was happy about was we didn’t get blown out and we didn’t win by a blowout so they’re going to learn more from this game than in any of the previous games we played.”

Jersey Shore 001 301 0–5 11 1

Williamsport 000 300 0–3 6 2

Montana Ohl and Arizona Shreck. Mikayla Aldenderfer and Kalindi Maggs. W–Ohl, (4-3). L–Aldenderfer, (3-3).

Top Jersey Shore hitters: Brianna Herman 2-4, R, SB; Shreck 2-4, RBI; Gabby Vuocolo 1-4, R; Janel Eck 1-4, R; McKenna Russell 1-3, RBI, R; Ashlynn Wool 1-3, RBI; Daytona Wentzel 2-3, 2B, RBI, R. Top Williamsport hitters: Kaylee Hornberger 2-4, R; Sammi Reeder 1-3, 2B, RBI; Cali Shields 1-3, RBI, R; Skyler Colarusso 1-3; Katie Meale 1-3, RBI.

Records: Jersey Shore 4-3. Williamsport 3-3.