Title game bound

Dragons down Bison, 7-1, will face Slippery Rock for D10 title Monday

Times Observer photos by Andy Close Warren second baseman Julia Lobdell holds the ball as she steps on the bag to double off Fort LeBoeuf’s Bri Amon during the fifth inning of Thursday’s District 10 Class 4A semifinal game. The play was a result of a running catch by left fielder Kyleigh Wilson, who fired the ball into Lobdell to complete the double play.

ERIE, Pa. – The fourth inning is quickly becoming Warren’s best friend in the District 10 playoffs.

The Lady Dragons broke open a scoreless game in the fourth inning of Thursday’s Class 4A semifinal against Fort LeBoeuf with four runs, helping them to a 7-1 win that lifted them into the D-10 title game.

The win was the third of the season against the Bison.

“We knew they were going to come at us even more, especially because we beat them twice,” said junior second baseman Julia Lobdell.

But they allowed that familiarity to work to their benefit as well.

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren shortstop Lex Nyquist fires to first for an out during the second inning of Thursday’s District 10 Class 4A semifinal game against Fort LeBoeuf at Penn State Behrend.

“We knew we couldn’t take them lightly, but it was nice because we were familiar with their pitching,” said junior first baseman Celia Chase. “So we knew what to expect from them.”

It was a game that was similar in many ways to the 12-2 quarterfinal win over Conneaut.

Pitcher Ellie Lobdell was brilliant, especially early in the game, retiring the side in order in the first three innings with six strikeouts.

“I heard another coach say it well, that everyone did something well,” said Warren coach Jon Sitler. “That’s what’s got us here. Even when someone doesn’t have the best day, someone else picks them up, whether it’s a bunt that moves runners over like from Jordan Sitler, a shoestring catch to start the game from Kelsey Stuart, or running down a fly ball in the gap to start a double play from Kyleigh Wilson. That’s three freshmen I mentioned, and that doesn’t even touch the surface. We don’t look at grade or even position, as a couple players don’t play in the position they grew up playing. Our focus is to do our job. One person moves them over, another gets them in. If one makes a mistake in the field, another picks them up. We all back our pitcher, Ellie Lobdell, who is working hard for us in the circle.

On the other side, LeBoeuf’s Jordan Popowski had Warren (15-4) off-balance early and was able to wiggle her way out of a pair of early jams.

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren catcher Grace Wortman connects on a single during the fifth inning of the District 10 Class 4A semifinals against Fort LeBoeuf on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Wortman collected an RBI on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and also scored a run in the 7-1 victory.

Chase singled and Kiersten Hoffman walked in the first, but she induced a strikeout to end that threat.

Lex Nyquist singled and Chase reached on an error in the third, but again Popowski escaped unscathed, getting a pop-up to end the inning.

Much like the quarterfinal win, the Dragons were able to put up a crooked number in the fourth.

Ellie Lobdell led off with a double to the center field fence that bounced off the arm of center fielder Brittany Arndt, who made a leaping attempt on the ball.

Arndt was able to stay in the game after briefly going down, and Lobdell’s double was followed by an error that allowed Gracie Wood to reach.

Times Observer photos by Andy Close Warren pitcher Ellie Lobdell fires to first during Thursday’s District 10 Class 4A semifinal game against Fort LeBoeuf at Penn State Behrend. Lobdell allowed just one run and struck out 11 in the 7-1 victory that sent the Lady Dragons to the D-10 title game.

Jordan Sitler’s infield single loaded the bases, and Grace Wortman followed with one of the least-seen plays in softball, an RBI hit-by-pitch to bring in pinch-runner Morgan Munksgard for the first run of the game.

“We all just needed to see the pitcher,” Julia Lobdell said about the team’s success the second time through the lineup.

With the bases still loaded, Nyquist worked a walk to make it 2-0.

Kelsey Stuart’s sacrifice fly to right made it 3-0 and Chase’s run-scoring single brought home the final run of the inning.

“We were all settled in by then and got all the nerves out,” Chase said.

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren’s Kelsey Stuart takes a lead off of first base during Thursday’s District 10 Class 4A semifinal game against Fort LeBoeuf at Penn State Behrend. Stuart had a hit, an RBI and a run scored in the 7-1 win.

On the mound, meanwhile, Lobdell escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the inning, allowing just one run.

Popowski singled, Mackenzie Kulik walked and Morgan Donnell’s infield single jammed the basepaths.

Lobdell struck out Gabbie Rimpa looking and, after getting ahead of Arndt 1-2, the Bison outfielder took a pitch just off the plate 3-2 to score LeBoeuf’s only run.

Lobdell struck out the next two batters to end the threat and finished with 11 punchouts.

“My velocity was pretty good today and I was hitting my spots decently,” she said.

Times Observer photo by Andy Close Warren’s Gracie Wood smiles as she is introduced before Thursday’s District 10 Class 4A semifinal game against Fort LeBoeuf at Penn State Behrend. The smiles continued for Wood and the Dragons as she had a big 2-run single during the Lady Dragons’ 7-1 win.

Added coach Sitler: “I have to tip my cap to Ellie for battling through the fourth inning. It shows how much she has grown.”

Both teams nearly plated a run in the fifth.

Grace Wortman singled with two outs, but left fielder Bri Amon fired a perfect strike to the plate to nab Munksgard.

Her counterpart in left field, Kyleigh Wilson, made an equally impressive play in the bottom half, making a running catch and tossing to second for a double play to end the frame.

Warren struck for another big inning in the sixth, with Julia Lobdell staring it off with a perfectly placed bunt that went for a hit.

“I just stay calm when I’m in there and try not to do too much,” she said.

Stuart singled with one out and Hoffman reached on an error with two outs to load the bases.

Ellie Lobdell took four straight out of the zone for the fifth run and Wood’s single down the left field line plated two more.

It was part of an attack that saw all nine players either get a hit or score a run.

“Eight different players had hits; a couple were squibbers and a couple were blasts. Whatever works.”

Now, they will play for a championship on Monday against Slippery Rock, which beat Grove City 11-1 (time TBA).

“We didn’t play our best game on Thursday, but we are where we want to be. We are going to work hard over the weekend to go after it on Monday.”

– – –

WARREN (7)

Nyquist ss 4-0-1-1, Stuart rf 3-1-1-1, Chase 1b 4-0-2-1, Hoffman 3b 3-1-0-0, E. Lobdell p 3-0-2-1, Munksgard cr 0-1-0-0, Wood cf 4-1-1-2, Sitler dp 4-1-1-0, Wortman c 3-1-1-1, J. Lobdell 2b 4-1-1-0, Wilson lf-flex 0-0-0-0, Totals 32-7-10-7

FORT LEBOEUF (1)

Popowski p 3-1-2-0, Kulick 3b 2-0-0-0, Donnell ss 3-0-1-0, Rimpa 1b 3-0-0-0, Arndt 2-0-0-1, Skinner rf 3-0-1-0, Welsh cr 0-0-0-0, Morrison 2b 2-0-0-0, Amon lf 3-0-0-0, Lesik c 3-0-0-0, Totals 24-1-4-1

Warren 000 403 0 – 7 10 1

Fort LeBoeuf 000 100 0 – 1 4 4

2B – E. Lobdell (W); WP – E. Lobdell; LP – Popowski

Pitching

Warren

E. Lobdell 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO

Fort LeBoeuf

Popowski 7 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO

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