Championship Monday: Warren softball looks to finish the job against Grove City
This moment has been a year in the making for the Warren softball team.
After losing 3-1 to Slippery Rock in the District 10 Class 4A title game in 2018, they are back in the same game, where they will face Grove City (Penn State Behrend, 5 p.m.).
This time around, they will be looking for some Memorial Day magic, as they attempt to win the program’s first D-10 crown since 2015.
This matchup in particular should come to the surprise of no one. The Dragons, Region 7 champions, have won 18-straight games since a season-opening loss to McDowell, while the Eagles, the Region 6 champs, enter with a record of 15-6.
After a grinder of a 4-3 win over Hickory in the quarterfinals, the Dragons had no problem in disposing of Harbor Creek, 11-0 in the semifinals. Grove City, meanwhile, earned a bye into the semis, where they beat Franklin, 6-0.
Lizzie Malczak did it all for GC in their semifinal win, driving in a pair of runs and tossing a complete game shutout on the mound. Her numbers on the season are strong. She sports a 1.44 ERA, with 136 strikeouts to just 19 walks in 82 2/3 innings pitched.
Her mound opponent, Ellie Lobdell, has been even better. The senior standout boasts a microscopic 0.66 ERA. She has struck out 171 and walked just 27 in 116 innings pitched.
Offensively, GC has a .334 team batting average and is led by the trio of Morgan Shingledecker, Jordyn Anderson and Camryn Billig.
Shingledecker is the team-leader in RBI (19), home runs (5) and batting average (.451). Anderson, meanwhile is batting .436 with 11 extra-base hits, while Billig has a .386 average, with three home runs and 15 RBI. Malczak also sports a .349 average.
Malczak will be facing a Warren lineup that is hitting a staggering .395 as a team, including six starters – Ellie Lobdell, Julia Lobdell, Kiersten Hoffman, Gracie Wood, Lex Nyquist and Kelsey Stuart, all over the .400 mark.
The top three hitters in the lineup – Nyquist, Julia Lobdell and Hoffman crushed the ball against Harbor Creek. All three of them had three hits, as did Stuart.
For the third-straight game, they will be back at Behrend, where they have every intention of raising a trophy at game’s end.
Should they do so, they would become at least the third WAHS program to win a District 10 team title this season, joining volleyball and girls basketball. It’s very possible they could be the fourth, however, as they will likely know the outcome of Warren baseball’s teams D-10 title game against General McLane by the time they take the field.
This is a moment they have earned and one that they are ready for.
“They believe that this is our time,” said Warren coach Jon Sitler. “There’s nothing wrong with that. They play to win, and that’s the way it should be.”
NOTE: The winner will play either Thomas Jefferson or Knoch in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, Monday, June 3.