Fisher’s home run sparks offensive explosion for CM
LORETTO — Alyssa Fisher provided the spark when Central Mountain needed it.
Behind two runs in the bottom of the third inning, Fisher rocketed a line drive home run to left field for the Wildcats’ first score of the game.
The solo bomb ignited the dugout. It commenced CM’s two-out, five-run rally in the third as the Wildcats out-worked DuBois, 14-5, to capture its second district championship in three years.
“I was going up to the plate knowing I had to execute for the team and get a run in,” Fisher said. “So I went up to work the pitcher and work the count, but eventually saw my pitch and just drove it.”
“This is fantastic,” Central Mountain coach Fred Caldwell said. “It’s always good to win, especially in a championship game.”
Central Mountain’s lineup was dynamite. Caitlyn Watson led the way with a pair of hits, a two-run home run and three RBIs. Autumn Dershem cracked another two hits and three RBIs as CM totaled 15 hits.
“Everybody did great,” Caldwell said. “Hitting really is contagious. In the first inning or two I thought we were a little tentative at the plate. But then a couple of girls hit, it became contagious and then we just started hitting up and down the lineup.”
CM was also solid on the defensive side and turned a pair of double plays. The first occurred in the bottom of the opening inning when right fielder Madalyn Bechdel snagged a line drive before it touched the turf then threw to first to double up the runner.
“Honestly, when the ball left the bat I thought it was going to hit the ground and be a double,” Caldwell said. “But Madalyn did a great job at tracking the ball down and getting the runner out at first. We’ve just been playing really solid defense in the second half of the season.”
DuBois built a 2-0 lead entering the top of third before Central Mountain’s offense erupted. Fisher kicked off the five-run rally with a solo blast to left field, her first of the season.
“It’s obviously a huge jump-start anytime you get a home run, especially with someone like Alyssa,” Caldwell said. “She’s worked so hard this year, so to see her (perform) like that in the district championship game is so rewarding for me, the team and her.”
Autumn Dershem soon handed CM a 3-2 lead when she slapped a two-run single. Kylie Wagner and Madison Knepp later recorded back-to-back RBI singles to extend CM’s lead, 5-2.
DuBois slashed its deficit to 5-4 in the back half of the the inning, but CM surged again in the fourth and never relinquished the lead.
Caitlyn Watson stretched the lead to 7-4 after she cracked a two-run home run. Watson huddled with Caldwell prior to the home run. He gave her the option to either bunt or swing away, and on the ensuing pitch she recorded her third home run of the season.
“Honestly, it feels good because it’s the first time I’ve hit a home run over the right side,” Watson said. “It just feels great.”
Riley Houser closed the inning with an RBI single to extend CM’s edge to 8-4. The lead widened again in the seventh as CM mustered another six runs as DuBois’ defense began to fold.
CM added another two insurance runs off DuBois fielding errors before Madalyn Bechdel came up to bat. The senior, who was CM’s lone starter without a hit, built up a favorable 3-0 count. Shen then switched to the left hander’s box and slapped a single on the next pitch. The single was Bechdel’s first left-handed hit of the season.
“Coach Caldwell just asked me to switch over, and I got the perfect pitch to hit into the opposite side of the field,” Bechdel explained. “It felt great, and it was nice to see all my hard work pay off and get that hit.”
Following Bechdel’s hit, Alyssa Fisher supplied an RBI double into right field to extend the lead to 12-4. Caitlyn Watson added another RBI single before Autumn Dershem’s sacrifice fly advanced the lead and secured the 14-5 district championship win.
“I think today was the day that we performed as an actual team,” Alyssa Fisher said. “We were up in the dugout cheering all game, and it was overall a good performance.”
Caitlyn Watson echoed a similar sentiment. She noted the team unity lifted Central Mountain in its biggest win of the season.
“We came together as one,” Watson said. “We’re usually kind of in groups, but we came together as one. We were all with each other and we came ready to play.”
CM advanced to the opening round of the PIAA playoffs where they’ll play a WPIAL team on June 3. Though the game is two weeks away, Caldwell hopes the momentum from the district championship win transitions to the state playoffs.
“This was a great win for the team and I hope it gets us ready for the next round,” he said.
Central Mountain 14, DuBois 5
Central Mountain 005 300 6 — 14 15 2
DuBois 022 100 0 — 5 10 4
WP–Madison Knepp. LP–Allie Snyder.
Top Central Mountain hitters: Alyssa Fisher, 2-4, HR, 2 RBIs; Caitlyn Watson, 2-4, HR, 3 RBIs; Autumn Dershem, 2-4, 3 RBIs. Top DuBois hitters: Taylor Smith, 2-3, RBI.