Decade’s best No. 2: Wellsboro edged Central Columbia in 2015 District 4 semifinals in high school softball
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a series looking back at the Top 10 high school softball teams, coaches, games and players from the last decade.
Wellsboro would have been happy capturing its first district championship had it not played Central Columbia. That championship was the main goal.
Still, in a perfect world the Green Hornets certainly wanted their championship march to include a victory against the defending Class AA state champions. Wherever and whenever that game happened, it did not matter. They simply wanted to exact revenge against a team which ended its 2014 season while showing them how good they were.
Wellsboro received its wish and earned a spot against Central in the district semifinals. The Hornets waited a year for this opportunity and they would not let it get away. No matter how tough this game became.
Central turned a two-run fourth-inning deficit into a one-run seventh-inning lead but Wellsboro had the last laugh, scoring twice in bottom of the seventh before an out was recorded to defeat the perennial power, 5-4. Two days later, Wellsboro captured the district championship, beating Milton, 3-1.
Here is thinking the Central victory, however, is the one Wellsboro most fondly remembers today.
“This team (Central) is perennial, just has always been there every year. They just don’t ever go away,” Wellsboro coach Greg Carr said afterward. “I’ve been coaching forever and I’ve always had a team that was willing to compete. We did enough to win and, under the circumstances, that was a huge win for us. That was a huge win for the seniors, a huge win for the school.”
Wellsboro had been building toward this moment the previous three seasons, making progress each year and improving its win total. The Hornets believed they had a district championship team in 2014, but Central derailed its championship push and defeated it, 5-2, in the district semifinals. Wellsboro gave Central its toughest district game and was left wondering what might have been as it watched the Blue Jays go all the way to Penn State and capture the state title.
The Hornets used that loss as offseason fuel and entered the 2015 season talented and hungry. Wellsboro stormed to the NTL-I championship and entered the semifinals 19-2 after winning 18 of its previous 19 games. The Hornets avenged an early-season loss against Troy and their only other defeat came against District 4 Class AAA champion Jersey Shore.
Wellsboro hit well throughout the lineup and featured two outstanding pitchers: Alexa Singer and Alyssa Yungwirth. Yungwirth dazzled throughout her freshman year and entered the Central game 8-0, having thrown 42 straight scoreless innings. She also tossed a three-hit shutout in the quarterfinals as Wellsboro edged 2014 District 4 Class A champ South Williamsport, 1-0.
“The kids have been together for so long, it was just a matter of time that this was going to happen for them,” Carr said. “This didn’t happen by mistake. They’ve worked their butt off the last four years. Whatever rewards they’re getting right now, they’ve earned them.”
Wellsboro appeared poised to earn its biggest win when all-state shortstop Sarah Ingerick belted a two-out, two-run, second-inning double which gave it a 3-1 lead. Singer settled in after allowing a first-inning run and pitched three-hit softball through five innings. Central scored an unearned run in the fourth inning, making it 3-2, but Singer surrendered just two baserunners over her last four innings. Yungwirth relieved Singer in the sixth and Central continued chipping away, ending her 42-inning scoreless streak and tying the game. Yungwirth, however, left the go-ahead runners in scoring position with one out. Left fielder Peyton Wilson ended the threat, throwing out a runner at home. Wilson showcased her defensive skills with that excellent throw and, after Central took a 4-3 lead in the seventh, she would display her clutch hitting.
Two years earlier, Wilson smashed a walk-off, three-run double down the left field line as Wellsboro stunned South, 6-5, in the first round of districts. This time, the four-year starting senior ignited the game-winning rally.
Wilson led off the seventh and ripped a double to nearly the exact same spot as her game-winner against South. Jenny Young followed with an RBI triple and in a flash Wellsboro tied it, 4-4.
“I’ve been struggling and actually that’s the same ball I hit freshman year to get us past South in districts,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of ironic our freshmen to senior year I have the same hit. I’m just glad I could help my team.”
Young did not have to wait long on third base after hitting her game-tying triple. Yungwirth drilled a hard grounder to shortstop a batter later and when it was mishandled, Young sprinted home and Wellsboro had the win it had coveted for so long, dethroning the champions and winning, 5-4.
“It was more of a revenge game for us. They knocked us out and we wanted to get it back,” Wilson said. “Like our coach said after the game, ‘How about that monkey off your back?’ That’s what it is, just that weight that we accomplished something and we can keep going.”
Wellsboro did just that two days later, denying Milton its sixth district title since 2006 and winning, 3-1. The Hornets had accomplished something no Wellsboro team ever had before and that none has since. They finished 21-3 and it was that Central victory which cemented its place as the program’s best team ever.