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Millionaire defense shines in win over Loyalsock

Williamsport often discusses game-changing plays during its post-game meetings. That meant Wednesday’s discussion lasted a little longer than usual.

Heck, if the Millionaires wanted to describe all the great defensive plays made against rival Loyalsock, they might still be talking today.

Williamsport played softball like it was conducting a defensive instructional video Wednesday at Elm Park. Infielders and outfielders took turns making highlight plays and Taryn Reed and Layla Waldman pitched outstanding as Williamsport defeated Loyalsock, 6-1. The Millionaires (12-6) won their third straight game and exacted revenge upon the only team to beat it during the regular season last year when Loyalsock won, 15-0.

So, yeah, this one felt mighty good and Williamsport looked great making it happen.

“It was nice coming into our senior year and leaving with a win against them,” Waldman said after throwing 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and earning the save. “We came out with a lot of energy. We really wanted it since last year.”

“They embarrassed us last year and not every game is the same,” Williamsport coach Chase Smith said. “This is a game that is a rivalry because of location; a rivalry because that was our only loss of the regular season, so it does mean more.”

All one had to do was watch Williamsport’s defense in action and realize how much this team craved revenge. Shortstop Aubri Blair took away what looked like two sure hits, setting the tone on the game’s opening play by stopping a hard-hit grounder in the hole. She then made an incredible, face-first diving catch along the left-field line two innings later. Second baseman Nicole Belton twice hustled into the outfield, once near the right-field line and wiped out potential hits.

Left fielder Matayah Deitrick seemed like she was covering half the earth, going deep into foul territory for a catch which stranded a runner on third to end the second inning. Deitrick than one-upped herself in the final inning, sprinting into the left-center gap and robbing Hannah Winter of a potential RBI double.

“I felt like I got a really good read and jump on it. I was confident I would get it,” Deitrick said. “Hustle is a big thing for us. Even at practice we’re always hustling.”

That hustle paid dividends all day. Dietrick’s seventh-inning gem was especially critical because Loyalsock would have had two on and been within 6-2, or had the bases loaded with no outs. Fittingly, Williamsport then closed the game with one last act of defensive wizadry.

This time, Allyia Kennedy hit a rocket of a liner toward the third-base line. Sarina Beiter read it the whole way and made a tough catch on the sinking ball. Not done, she made a snap throw to Belton at second base and turned a game-ending double play.

“The defense performed great. We did really well,” Waldman said. “I just know they’re out there doing everything they can to make all the plays and they do. They make every play and that gives me a lot of confidence.”

“We’ve had great defense the whole year,” Smith said. “There was a game or two where we had a blip on the radar where we had a few bad innings, but not bad games. Today was solid all the way through.”

That stellar defense let Reed and Waldman confidently pound the strike zone. They pitched to contact, worked ahead and let their defense work behind them. Waldman and Deitrick drew first-inning RBI walks as Williamsport went up 2-0 and the pitching and defense took it from there until the sixth inning when the Millionaires scored four more times.

Reed scattered four hits and surrendered just one run in 4 1/3 innings. Smith went to Waldman when the top of Loyalsock’s order came up for a third time and Waldman picked up where Reed left off. The senior twice stranded two runners on when it was still 2-1, ending each threat with a strikeout. Williamsport then delivered four sixth-inning hits as all facets of its game came together.

“We came out strong and started out getting some runs and then we ended with some more runs. We just did a really good job working as a team,” Deitrick said. “We really made some clutch plays. That got us hyped up. Layla had some clutch strikeouts and left people on base and shut them down, so that was big.”

Waldman opened the four-run sixth inning with a walk before Deitrick dropped a perfect bunt and reached on an error. Amalie Robertson continued an outstanding senior year and delivered a pinch-hit RBI single which made it 3-1, staying with a two-strike pitch and hitting into center field. Blair (2 for 4) then belted a two-run double; Myla Kelley singled and Abby Robertson’s RBI fielder’s choice capped the four-run flurry.

Ally Chilson also had two hits and Robertson and Beiter shined off the bench. It was a Williamsport performance as complete as it was impressive.

“Everyone can contribute on this team,” Waldman said. “It doesn’t matter who it is, you can put anybody into any situation.”

Anna Luxenberger continued hitting well after blasting a walk-off grand slam in Saturday’s thrilling 8-4 Loyalsock victory against District 2 power Abington Heights. Mallory Rodarmel hit a fifth-inning triple and scored on Hailey Berkeiser’s RBI single. Berkheiser (2 for 3) tried igniting a seventh-inning rally as well, ripping a lead-off single.

Williamsport did not produce a hit during the first inning, but used good discipline and patience to draw four walks and build a 2-0 lead. Kelley and Abby Robertson started the rally with consecutive one-out walks and both scored when Waldman and Deitrick drew two-out RBI walks. The Millionaires will try building on that momentum in their regular-season finale at DuBois.

The Millionaires are the only team which has beaten DuBois and can clinch District 2-4 Class AAAAAA’s top seed if it wins.

Loyalsock 000 010 0–1 7 1

Williamsport 200 004 x–6 7 1

Marissa Helmrich and Grace Shaible. Taryn Reed, Layla Waldman (5) and Abby Mahon. W–Reed, (3-2). L–Helmrich, (7-5). SV–Waldman.

Top Loyalsock hitters: Hailey Berkheiser 2-3, RBI; Anna Luxenberger 2-3; Mallory Rodarmel 1-3, 3B, R; Shaible 1-3, BB; Allyia Kennedy 1-4. Top Williamsport hitters: Aubri Blair 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, R; Ally Chilson 2-4; Myla Kelley 1-2, 2 BBs, R; Amalie Robertson 1-1, RBI; Abby Robertson 1-3, BB, RBI, R; Waldman RBI, R; Matayah Deitrick RBI, R.

Records: Williamsport 12-6. Loyalsock 12-6.

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