Williamsport softball starts strong, defeats State College
Williamsport had not played or practiced together since the previous Saturday. It had a ready-made excuse if things did not go well Saturday at Elm Park.
The Millionaires never needed it. They made big plays, key pitches and delivered timely hits instead.
Because the school was in remote learning last week, Williamsport could not practice but it still looked strong against State College. Kendall McAnelly took a shutout into the sixth inning, Emma Dickey ignited the defense and three players produced multi-hit performances as Williamsport won, 7-5. The Millionaires (2-0) built a 6-0 fifth-inning lead and Aubri Blair, Myla Kelley and Isabelle Griswold all produced two hits as they defeated a second straight quality opponent.
“We were shut down completely so we weren’t allowed to have practices where our coaches could be there, so I’m super happy with the way we played,” Griswold said. “I’m really impressed. Those (State College) girls definitely came out to play but we came out harder.”
Williamsport avenged a 2019 loss against State College and scored five runs in the third and fourth innings to build a 5-0 lead. State College cut a six-run deficit to two in the sixth, but Griswold started an inning-ending double play before hitting an RBI single in the bottom of the inning. She then made a spectacular diving stop to take away a lead-off hit in the seventh and relief pitcher Layla Waldman preserved the win, inducing a groundout with the tying run at the plate.
“I think our team does have the chemistry that even if we do have a break we can always come back and regroup,” Kelley said. “We can get back together and play well.”
Kelley (2 for 3) produced the game’s turning point in the third inning when she slammed a one-out triple into the right-center field gap. Jayla Bartholomew followed with a sacrifice fly to score the game’s first run before Williamsport generated some two-out thunder.
Blair (2 for 2) hit the first of her two doubles and scored on Griswold’s RBI single. Griswold scored on an error and Williamsport went ahead, 3-0. Blair continued her sizzling sophomore start and is 5 for 5 with four RBIs and four runs in her first two high school games.
Waldman and Kelly sparked a two-run rally the following inning, hitting consecutive singles. Jayla Bartholomew scored Waldman with an RBI grounder and Blair followed with an RBI double. Another run scored an inning later on a wild pitch as Williamsport built a 6-0 advantage.
“That’s something about our team, we always have to see the pitcher first. We see what she’s throwing and then usually we can get into a pretty good groove,” Kelley said. “I feel like once we start going we don’t stop. We just all get going.”
State College pitcher Zia Bendar had excellent spin on her pitches and had Williamsport off-balance those first two innings. The second and third times threw the order, however, Williamsport came alive and consistently hit the ball hard. The Millionaires chased Bednar in the fourth inning and seven different players produced hits.
“We learned from our first at-bats and we took away from our first at-bats and talked about what she was pitching and it definitely showed up the next time we went through the lineup,” Griswold said. “The last time we played State College we lost, so we knew they were going to come out hard. Getting that lead was a sigh of relief because we knew this was going to be a really hard game.”
State College made it hard on McAnelly threw the first five innings but the sophomore pitcher never buckled. McAnelly was outstanding under pressure and stranded nine baserunners in those first five innings, including five in scoring position. The right-hander left the bases loaded with one out and scattered four hits in five innings.
Dickey helped out McAnelly in a big way during the second inning. Following consecutive walks, State College tried running each time but Dickey made perfect throws and easily cut down both runners. In her first two high school starts, McAnelly has thrown 10 scoreless innings out of 12 and has been at her best in pressure situations.
“She’s just a gamer. She knows how to get out of jams,” Williamsport coach Chase Smith said. “You watch her pitch and there’s nothing magical about her. She just knows how to get people out. You can’t be any happier than that.”
Waldman came in with the bases loaded in the sixth and induced a one-out grounder to Blair at shortstop. Blair threw to Griswold for the first out and Griswold made a snap throw to third, completing a double play which loomed large after State College had pulled within 6-4. Griswold’s defensive game an inning later played a large role as well since State College cut it to 7-5 with a two-out single.
Williamsport hardly looked like a team which had not played together in a week. Just imagine what the Millionaires might do once they settle into a regular schedule.
“They don’t want time off. They want to be out there. everyone has their own different way of staying focused in that time and they did a great job with that,” Smith said. “I told my wife (Friday) night my biggest concern is weáre going to come out flat because we haven’t played in a week. We didn’t score right away but they were on it from the beginning and I was really impressed.”
State College 000 004 1–5 7 1
Williamsport 003 211 x–7 10 2
Zia Bednar, Carson Spencer (4) and Liv Mctavish. Kendall McAnelly, Layla Waldman (6) and Emma Dickey. W–McAnelly, (2-0). –Bednar.
Top State College hitters: Bednar 2-4, RBI; Mctavish 1-4, 2B, RBI; Spencer 1-2, 2B, RBI. Top Williamsport hitters: Myla Kelley 2-3, 3B, 2 R; Aubri Blair 2-2, 2 2Bs, RBI, 2 R; Isabelle Griswold 2-3, 2 RBIs, R; Hailey Debrody 1-2; Jayla Bartholomew 1-3, RBI; Waldman 1-2, R; McAnelly 1-4.
Records: Williamsport 2-0. State College 0-2.