South’s Schuler has helped team get this far

South Williamsport’s Alizabeth Schuler pitches during Wednesday’s practice at the Liberty Arena. Schuler has been huge for South Williamsport this summer in the circle, helping it win the District 12, Section 3 and Pennsylvania championships. Schuler has played in three state tournaments so far, also appearing in the minor softball and 9-11 softball tournaments.

If you glance down South Williamsport’s results from the district, sectional and state tournaments, you instantly will see how good of an offense South Williamsport has.

After all, this is a team that has scored 119 runs through three tournaments and seemingly the entire lineup can hit at will, from the starting nine to the various substitutes manager Cory Goodman uses in games.

But don’t think that this South Williamsport team is only a hitting team and is all about offense. In the circle, South Williamsport has a solid pitcher in Alizabeth Schuler and she’s been key to this South Williamsport run as well.

“She’s a gamer. She’s been doing this probably since she’s been about 5 years old, pitching with her dad and she has sisters that pitched before,” Goodman said. “She’s thrown in big games. She’s been there. She just has the attitude to go out and try to dominate the hitters.”

And so far, that’s been working.

In the three tournaments South Williamsport has played in, only once has a team scored eight runs in a game. That was in the first game of the state tournament in which South rallied back to beat Indiana, 9-8.

But Schuler doesn’t take all the credit for it. In her own words, she’s only as good as her defense.

“I was only able to do that with the defense behind me because we have a really good defensive team and that comes with the offense too,” Schuler said of her pitching efforts. “They have been amazing this year. If I give up a hit to centerfield, my centerfielder can make a diving catch to make the out.”

Schuler threw a complete game in the District 12 championship, a 10-0 win over Clinton in four innings in which she scattered just two singles to opposing hitters.

Against Berwick in the Section 3 tournament, Schuler and Lynna Clark combined in the circle for a one-hit win.

Four times – including twice in districts — Schuler was part of a shutout and held opponents to just eight runs through South Williamsport’s first six games entering the state tournament.

“I really love pitching,” Schuler said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do in softball. It has to be my favorite.”

And Schuler’s love for pitching has South Williamsport into the Eastern Regional tournament, the first time this century that a District 12 team has reached a major softball regional tournament.

When asked if she’s nervous entering the Eastern Regional tournament, Schuler simply smiled and said not really. That’s what you’d expect from an experienced pitcher who is no stranger to big games.

Schuler threw for South Williamsport in the minor softball, 9-11 softball and now major softball state tournaments, including pitching for South Williamsport in this year’s state championship game to earn that trip to Bristol, Conn., this weekend.

She also was part of South Williamsport’s team that appeared in last year’s 8-9-10 Eastern Regional Invitational tournament.

“I think it’s beneficial,” Schuler said of having played in multiple state tournaments.

“I think it’ll really help. They’ve all played in big games. Going back to that first game being down, they know it’s not over until that last out. We’re probably most experienced going into regionals wtih that type of thing playing in states three years in a row,” Goodman said. “They obviously played really well last year and won that (state tournament) and this year we played well. They have come together as a team and really started playing the best softball at the best time.”

Having played in three consecutive state tournaments — including an Eastern Regional Invitational tournament last year — Schuler knew what to expect and see in districts, sectionals and states from teams her and her teammates have played the past three years with a handful of new faces on various teams. And Schuler knows that in Bristol, the pitching will be even tougher and she’ll have to be on her game for South Williamsport.

“I expect a little bit faster pitching than what we have seen before,” Schuler said.

As to what’s been the biggest key to this postseason run, both Schuler and Kendall Cardone agree it’s been communication with one another.

“Cheering each other on even if you argue with them or don’t like them, just cheer them on,” Cardone said.

“If one person gets down, the next person gets up and hits like a bomb and it keeps it going,” Schuler said. “Makes you feel better.”