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Six runs in fourth inning lifts No. 1 Williamsport softball over No. 4 Delaware Valley in District 2-4 Class 6A semifinal

Neveah Hale of Williamsport dives safely back to first base and she collides with Nikki Kalitsnik of Delaware Valley in the fourth inning at Elm Park May 25, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

No. 1 Williamsport had been through worse. Much worse. Still, against No. 4 Delaware Valley, the Millionaires didn’t get off to a hot start in the District 2-4 Class 6A semifinals.

Trailing by two runs midway through the fourth inning, Williamsport’s dugout still wasn’t rattled.

“I would say we all kept our heads in the game,” senior leftfielder Matayah Deitrick said. “I don’t think we really ever had a doubt that we wouldn’t come back in the inning previously. Then, we actually started putting the bat to the ball. So, I think we knew that next inning coming in we were going to start stringing together hits.”

The hits came up and down the Millionaires’ order. Williamsport scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth to cement a comeback over the Warriors, 6-4 at Elm Park Wednesday.

With the win, the Millionaires advance to the District 2-4 Class 6A championship for the 10th time in 11 years and will face the winner between No. 2 Hazleton and No. 3 Scranton on May 31 at 4:30 p.m. at a location TBD.

Layla Waldman (26) and Abby Robertson (22) of Williamsport celebrate as they leave the field in the top of the 4th inning against Delaware Valley at Elm Park May 25, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Having two runners on base, Deitrick drove them both in by ripping a triple, knotting the game 2-all.

“I think everyone then was really pumped up with that because we finally got some runs back,” Deitrick said. “I think the energy just kind of shifted there once we started getting runs.”

Neveah Hale of Williamsport rounds third base and scores against Delaware Valley in the fourth inning at Elm Park May 25, 2022. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Nicole Benton plated Deitrick with a base hit to give Williamsport (14-6) the lead, but an error saw her advance to second base on the play.

Back in the heart of the Millionaires’ lineup, Myla Kelley — who leads Williamsport in batting average at .453 — added another RBI before a two RBI double from Ally Chilson.

The Millionaires were without coach Chase Smith, who was out after testing positive for COVID-19. While Smith was tuned into a livestream from home, Steve Reed was the acting manager.

“It was different going into it. The game had a different feel. Not that it really changed much, but it definitely was a little different from usual going into a big playoff game,” Deitrick said. “We basically knew we had to win so we could have (Smith) back for Tuesday, but Reed did a great job.”

Williamsport laid on seven hits, the bulk of which came in the bottom of the fourth inning when the floodgates opened.

“It was just adjusting. We’ve seen such tough pitching all year long. That’s probably the 11th-best pitcher we’ve seen all year,” Reed said on Delaware Valley (4-17) pitcher Celia Clark. “And it might’ve just gotten us off a little bit, and then they just all came in at one time. And even after that, we had some hard-hit balls that they made some nice plays on.”

Clark pitched six innings with four strikeouts and five walks. Layla Waldman pitched a complete game with six strikeouts and a pair of walks with nine hits allowed.

The Warriors established their two-run lead with an RBI from Avery Calvario in the opening frame before a leadoff home run from Emily Henn in the top of the third.

That four-run cushion for Williamsport began to evaporate in the top of the seventh inning. After a promising two-out start, Abby Kemp and Park made an RBI apiece to cut the game within two runs.

“We got our pitchers up. We knew (Waldman) pitched good all game, but we just had our pitchers ready to go if we needed them,” Reed said. “We’ve been through such tough games all year that we’re really built for this kind of thing. Like coach Smith said, when we’re down, it’s never over.”

Waldman stayed in the game and pitched one last ball that was met by Deitrick in left field to ice the game.

Williamsport has mounted comebacks over Holy Redeemer and Jersey Shore, won an intense pitching duel against St. Mary’s and now in the postseason, made another surge without its coach present. The Millionaires are finding ways to win close games.

“It’s just knowing and keeping confidence in ourselves and never getting down,” Deitrick said. “We always try to keep the energy up when we are down and it really helps us pull through in the end.”

Reed added, “Our girls just don’t quit.”

Delaware Valley 101 000 2 — 4 9 6

Williamsport 000 600 x — 6 7 3

Celia Park and Emily Henn. Layla Waldman and Abby Mahon. W: Waldman. L: Park.

Top Delaware Valley hitters: Emily Henn 3-4, HR, RBI; Avery Calvario 2-4, RBI; Top Williamsport hitters: Nicole Benton 2-4, RBI; Matayah Deitrick 2-2, 3B, 2 RBI.

Records: Delaware Valley 4-17; Williamsport 14-6.

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