ERIE - It all came together.
Warren had suffered three defeats in three years to Fort LeBoeuf in the District 10 title game - including a heartbreaker in 10 innings last year, but that was yesterday. The Dragons jumped on the Bison early and often Monday in a 10-0, five-inning win in this year's D10 Class AAA final at Penn State Behrend.
"It just feels like everything came together, and it feels really great," said Warren senior third baseman Kennedy Walter, who scored three runs and had two of the Dragons' 13 hits. "I love these guys - they're my family. I wouldn't want to play with anyone else."
Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler
Reason to smile
Warren seniors, from left, Alexa Bupp, Kaitlin Ishman and Kennedy Walter accept the District 10 Class AAA Championship trophy after a 10-0, five-inning win over rival Fort LeBoeuf on Monday at Penn State Behrend. The Dragons last won a District 10 title in 2010 and had lost the last three to the Bison before winning Monday to improve to 18-1.
Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler
Warren head coach Mark Bupp hugs his daughter, pitcher Alexa Bupp, after the Dragons won the District 10 Class AAA championship game, 10-0, over Fort LeBoeuf Monday at Penn State Behrend in Erie.
Times Observer photo by Jon Sitler
Swing of things
Warren senior Kaitlin Ishman gets into a pitch during the Dragons’ 10-0, five-inning District 10 Class AAA championship game win over Fort LeBoeuf on Monday at Penn State Behrend.
And no one wanted to be left out. Warren scored seven runs on eight hits in the bottom of the fourth inning, and senior pitcher Alexa Bupp needed just one more half inning to close the door on the program's first District 10 title since 2010.
The program has been to six straight District 10 championship games under head coach Mark Bupp, but this group of seniors, including the pitcher for the past four years, Alexa Bupp, had not won a title. Until Monday.
She was nearly unhittable for the Dragons, allowing three baserunners in four innings.
"After the last three years, we knew we had to come in ready for anything, and we did," said Alexa Bupp. "It's a great feeling knowing that we all have each other's backs no matter what. We knew that today we had to all bring our 'A' game, and I think everybody did."
Fort LeBoeuf senior catcher Kelsey Kuzma has been on all of the Bison's past three title-winning teams, and had four hits in last year's win. She started this one out with a fly ball to right hauled in by Lauren Frazier for the first out of the game.
With two outs in the first, Jolene Young hit a hard line drive to left off a changeup that was misplayed for two bases. Bupp retired the next eight in a row. She finished with nine strikeouts and two walks over five no-hit innings.
Warren senior Kaitlin Ishman has also played in four straight D10 title games, and gave the Dragons a jump start in the bottom of the first with an inside-the-park home run.
Ishman always plays with emotion, but said that home run was extra special.
After the passing of her father and brother in the past year, she said the Dragons had "two angels looking out for them.
"Every time I go to the plate I say, 'here we go, Dad,'" said Ishman. "I think about them all the time... especially after the home run."
The victory seemed destined from the start, but it was still just 1-0 Warren. After Walter walked from the two spot, Bupp doubled her in to make it 2-0 in the first.
LeBoeuf senior Hannah Cass was one of three pitchers to see time in the circle this season after Amanda Krolczyk, who graduated, led the Bison to the 10-inning win last year. While Warren faced freshman starter Madison Vorpagel in two regular-season wins, Cass beat Hickory in the D10 semifinals Thursday and earned the nod Monday. She settled down to retire six of the next seven Dragons with Warren winning 2-0 after two-and-a-half innings.
Walter led off the bottom of the third with a single and was bunted to second by Bupp. Fort LeBoeuf chose to avoid clean-up hitter Paige Wilson and intentionally walked her. With two outs, freshman Megan Wortman came up with a big RBI double for a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Frazier, Alexis Munksgard, Walter, Bupp, Meghan Loutzenhiser, Wortman, Kathryn Lobdell, and Frazier again had hits to break the game wide open. Munksgard almost had a second hit, but an interference call on a Warren baserunner ended the inning.
Bupp and Lobdell each had two-run doubles in the frame, and the damage was done. Loutzenhiser, Wortman and Frazier had two-out hits.
Frazier, who was out last year with an ACL tear and became team manager, was 3-for-3 in this one. She worked out on the track at the YMCA all winter for this moment.
"Every time I go jogging, I know it's helping me to run the bases harder for my team," she said.
Alexa Bupp was 2-for-2 with two doubles and three RBI, Walter 2-for-2 with three runs, Wortman 2-for-3 with two RBI, and every Dragon reached base, including nine of 11 in the fourth.
"We just knew," said Walter. "I think the first time we stepped in the gym this year, we just knew this was our year."
Almost every Dragon has a story, but coach Mark Bupp has insisted this group didn't need any extra motivation.
"I'm proud of all of them," he said. "Their resiliency, their willingness from day one to step in and work hard... and these kids just never lost focus. We've talked about it time and time again as a staff, that they just held their focus, they held their willingness to work hard. I think that showed throughout the entire season, and it showed here today.
"We always talk about being able to learn from the past, but focus on the future, and these kids have bought into that," said coach Bupp. "Certainly, there were some trials and tribulations, but I think it helped build a lot of character in these kids. This is a group that's hung together and worked together through several things. I think what makes it sweeter is we beat a team that went to the state finals last year, and it's a quality program and we beat two quality programs in our playoff bracket... to come out and dominate (Fort LeBoeuf) like we did today is very satisfying. I really hope the kids in Warren can appreciate what they've had an opportunity to see over the course of, not just this year, but the last three to four years. There's been a lot of people putting in a ton of hours. I just want to thank everybody that's been a part of this journey for these kids."
Warren advances to the PIAA tournament June 2 to play the District 7 third-place team, the winner of Greensburg Salem and Elizabeth Forward, which play on Tuesday.
District 10 Class AAA Championship
At Penn State Behrend
FORT LeBOEUF (0): ab-r-h-rbi, Kuzma c 2-0-0-0, Carroll ss 2-0-0-0, J. Young 1b 1-0-0-0, Ludwig 2b 2-0-0-0, Cass p 2-0-0-0, Brown 3b 2-0-0-0, Lockhart dp 1-0-0-0, Ebert rf, K. Young cf 2-0-0-0, Oldach lf 2-0-0-0. Totals 16-0-0-0.
WARREN (10): Ishman ss 3-1-1-1, Walter 3b 2-3-2-0, Bupp p 2-0-2-3, Rosendahl cr 0-1-0-0, Wilson c 1-1-0-0, Loutzenhiser 1b 3-1-1-1, Wortman 2b 3-1-2-2, Lobdell cf 3-1-1-2, Frazier rf 3-1-3-1, Munksgard lf 3-0-1-0. Totals 23-10-13-10.
Fort LeBoeuf 000 00 - 0 0 0
Warren 201 7x - 10 13 1
2b-Bupp (W) 2, Wortman (W), Lobdell (W). HR-Ishman (W). WP-Bupp. LP-Cass.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): W-Bupp, 5-0-0-0-2-9; F-Cass, 4-13-10-10-3-3.