Central Mountain softball advances to D6 Class 5A final

MILL HALL — Central Mountain’s slight 2-1 lead had coach Fred Caldwell uneasy. His team was in a competitive contest with two-win Hollidaysburg, but the coach knew the Golden Tigers’ record wasn’t reflective of their attitude.

“I’m always worried,” Caldwell said of the early one-run lead. “But I told our girls when Hollidaysburg was warming up that they don’t look like a two-win team. They looked much better than that. I don’t want to say we took them for granted, but by the fourth inning our offense kicked in.”

Central Mountain exploded for five runs in the third. It totaled another four in the fifth to drop Hollidaysburg, 11-1, in five innings and advance to next Wednesday’s District 6 Class 5A championship game against the DuBois Beavers.

“I thought the game went well,” Caldwell said. “We started off a little bit slow, and we didn’t really come along until the fourth inning. But in the fourth and fifth inning we started hitting the ball and playing like we should’ve been playing.”

Central Mountain’s impressive day the plate aided them in the win. They out-hit DuBois, 14-4, with each batter recording a hit on the day. Autumn Dershem led Central Mountain with a pair of hits and team-high three RBIs, while Morgan Wetzel notched another pair of hits and an RBI.

Madison Knepp threw three strikeouts and scattered four-hits in a complete-game performance. Her only blip of the game was the lone run allowed in the opening inning.

“Madi’s been great all year,” Caldwell said. “She’s gotten stronger as the year went on and she’s been great.”

Alyssa Fisher’s play at second highlighted a strong defensive afternoon. Her standout effort of the game was a diving grab to rob Trinity Molliver of a base hit in the third.

“Alyssa played her heart out at second base,” Caldwell said. “The two diving attempts, and keeping the ball in the infield, were just fantastic plays. You can’t ask any more of a player than that.”

The Golden Tigers recorded half of their four hits in the opening inning. Meghan Cutshall cracked a leadoff double, setting up Trinity Molliver’s RBI groundout to put Hollidaysburg ahead, 1-0. Central Mountain responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning, but the Golden Tigers kept the game competitive to trail just 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth.

“Everybody believes in themselves and we just have a great group of girls,” Hollidaysburg coach Heather Perry said of the game’s early competitiveness. “We were just ready to go out there and prove something today.”

Central Mountain’s offense woke up in the fourth. Madison Knepp smacked an RBI double to extend Central Mountain’s lead before Madalyn Bechdel’s two-run double stretched the lead to 5-1. Morgan Wetzel and Autumn Dershem finished the inning’s scoring with back-to-back RBI hits to advance the Wildcats’ lead, 7-1.

“Going through the lineup twice, and getting a couple of looks at the pitcher, helped us to begin scoring in that inning,” Caldwell said. “Their pitcher had a different delivery than what we’re used to, and a couple of girls commented that it was throwing their timing off just a little bit.”

Central Mountain put the game away in the fifth with a four-run, two-out rally. Alyssa Fisher commenced the scoring with an RBI single to widen the lead by seven. Later in the inning Autumn Dershem supplied her third RBI of the evening, which set up Riley Houser’s game-ending two-run single.

Central Mountain 11,

Hollidaysburg 1

(5 INNINGS)

(DISTRICT 6 CLASS 5A SEMIFINALS)

Hollidaysburgh 100 00 — 1 4 2

Central Mountain 200 54 — 11 14 0

W: Madison Knepp. L: Oakley Fox-Kern.

Top Hollidaysburg hitters: Meghan Cutshall 2-3; Trinity Molliver, RBI; Madison Coho 1-2. Top Central Mountain hitters: Autumn Dershem 3-3, 3 RBIs; Morgan Wetzel 2-3, RBI; Riley Houser 1-3, 3 RBIs; Madalyn Bechdel 1-3, 2 RBIs.

Records: Central Mountain (10-9), Hollidaysburg (2-14). Next game: Central Mountain vs. DuBois at St. Francis, TBA, in District 6 Class 5A championship game.

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