Semifinal statement: Dragons rout Harbor Creek, return to District 10 title game
ERIE – A 9-run third inning propelled Warren softball to an 11-0, five inning, Class 4A District 10 Semifinal playoff win over Harbor Creek at Penn State Behrend Thursday.
The win put the Dragons in the D-10 championship game for the second straight year, and seventh time since 2010. Warren will be looking to pick up its third title in that span Monday against Grove City (time and location to be determined).
“These guys put so much pressure on themselves to win,” Warren coach Jon Sitler said. “We (coaches) don’t have to (push them), parents don’t have to. They just want it more.”
After struggling offensively in the quarterfinal win over Hickory Tuesday, the Dragons (18-1) got the bats going early in the semis. Lex Nyquist poked the first pitch she saw between third and short for a leadoff single to start the game (Warren lost the coin toss to determine home team, prompting Warren assistant coach Mark Nyquist to jokingly exclaim, “We’re sending someone else out for the toss next time!”).
Julia Lobdell followed with a bunt single that put runners at first and second with no outs. Kiersten Hoffman grounded into a fielder’s choice to third baseman Jaclyn Phillips. Phillips stepped on the bag at third for the force out of Nyquist. One out later, Kelsey Stuart reached on an error to load the bases. Huskies (9-10) pitcher Macy Stoddard got Gracie Wood to ground out to second to end the threat.
“Lex got us going and Julia followed with that bunt,” Sitler said. “There was that familiarity and we knew what to expect. We were aggressive right from the start.”
Regan Rand led off the home half with a single and tried to steal second. Hoffman fired to Nyquist who applied the tag for the out. Warren pitcher Ellie Lobdell got the next two batters to ground out and fly out to end the inning.
After a quiet second, Nyquist got things going for the Dragons in the third. She hit another leadoff single to nearly the same spot as her first inning hit. Julia Lobdell put down another bunt. First baseman Carlie Przybylski was there to field the ball, but fired it over Kylie Pinetti’s head and into right. The misfire allowed Nyquist to get to third and Jenna Babay’s throw from right scooted under Stoddard’s glove in the circle. Nyquist raced home for the 1-0 lead and Julia Lobdell advanced to second on the play.
Hoffman followed with a single to left that put runners on the corners. Ellie Lobdell hit a line drive single to center that brought in Julia Lobdell for a 2-0 lead. Stuart followed with an infield hit to load the bases and Wood hit a sac fly to center to bring in Hoffman. Ellie Irwin, who entered as a courtesy runner for Ellie Lobdell, scored when Celia Chase reached on an error. Grace Wortman followed with a sac fly to left to bring in Stuart for a 5-0 advantage. Morgan Munksgard roped a double to right to bring in Chase and Nyquist singled in Munksgard. It looked like the inning would end when Julia Lobdell hit a grounder to short, but Nyquist beat Rand’s throw to second and Hoffman made the play count with a scorching 2-run double over Ali Benim’s head in center.
When it was all said and done, the Dragons scored nine runs on eight hits in the inning.
Madyson Konieczki had an infield hit to start the bottom of the inning, and moved into scoring position on Przybylski’s ground out. A pair of lineouts ended the threat.
Stuart singled to start the fourth and Chase’s 1-out double put runners at second and third. Stoddard got a ground out and pop out to keep it 9-0.
Julia Lobdell singled with one out in the fifth and Hoffman followed with her second double to put a pair in scoring position. Julia Lobdell came home on a wild pitch to make it 10-0. With two away, Stuart doubled to the gap in right-center that brought in Hoffman for the final run of the game.
The Huskies made things interesting in the bottom of the fifth.
Benim singled to left and Konieczki reached on an infield hit to put runners at first and second with no outs. Ellie Lobdell struck out Przybylski for the first out and Rand grounded into a fielder’s choice at third with Stuart stepping on the bag to force out Benim. Nielsen hit a weak grounder to Chase at first who calmly collected the ball and stepped on first base for the final out and a trip to the championship.
Ellie Lobdell scattered five hits over five shutout innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
“Ellie keeps us in every game,” Sitler said. “There’s a sense of confidence there. Our defense only allows runners to go station-to-station so teams have to string three, four, five hits together to score and not many can do that against her.”
Sitler tweaked his lineup a bit from the quarterfinals. He inserted Munksgard as the designated player and moved Stuart from that spot to third base.
“Morgan, Alex (Neureiter), Kelsey, Katie (Madigan), Ellee Irwin, it’s important to have them all involved,” he said. “We have confidence in every one of them.”
Nyquist, Julia Lobdell, Hoffman and Stuart all finished with three hits. Nyquist scored twice and drove in a run, Julia Lobdell scored three times, Hoffman scored twice and had two RBI and Stuart scored once and drove in another. Ellie Lobdell, Chase and Munksgard each had a hit and RBI.
For the second time in these playoffs, Warren will face an opponent for the first time this season when the Dragons take on Grove City. The Eagles were 6-0 winners over Franklin in the other 4A semifinal.
Warren’s coaches have already been heavily scouting Grove City and know what they have to do to win.
“If we play our game, do the little things and don’t try to do too much, we can be successful,” Sitler said.
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Nyquist ss 4-2-3-1, J. Lobdell 2b 4-3-3-0, Hoffman c 4-2-3-2, Yeager cr 0-0-0-0, E. Lobdell p 4-0-1-1, Irwin cr 0-1-0-0, Stuart 3b 4-1-3-1, Wood cf 3-0-0-1, Chase 1b 4-1-1-1, Wortman rf 2-0-0-1, Munksgard dp 3-1-1-1, Madigan lf 0-0-0-0, Totals 32-11-15-9
Harbor Creek (0)
Rand ss 3-0-1-0, Nielsen lf 3-0-0-0, Babay rf 2-0-1-0, Stoddard p 1-0-0-0, Mosbacher cr 0-0-0-0, Yonko c 2-0-0-0, Phillips 3b 2-0-0-0, Benim cf 2-0-1-0, Konieczki dp 2-0-2-0, Przybylski 1b 2-0-0-0, Pinetti 2b 0-0-0-0, Totals 19-0-5-0
Warren 009 02x x – 11 15 0
Harbor Creek 000 00x x – 0 5 5
DP-None. 2b-Hoffman (W) 2, Chase (W), Stuart (W), Munksgard (W). CS-Rand (H).
IP H R ER BB K
E. Lobdell (W, 18-1) 5 5 0 0 1 4
Stoddard (L, 6-6) 5 14 11 4 0 4
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GROVE CITY 6, FRANKLIN 0
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa – Lizze Malczak tossed a 3-hit shutout and drove in a pair of runs to lead Grove City past Franklin and earn a D-10 title game date with Warren.
Malczak’s 2-run single in the first got Grove City on the board, bringing in Camryn Billig and Morgan Shingledecker. Brooke Shingledecker brought in another run with an RBI single to cap the first-inning scoring.
The Lady Eagles (14-5) struck for three more runs in the fourth inning, keyed by a 2-run single off the bat of Billig.
They did all this aginst Franklin (11-9) ace Gracie Stryffeler, who did manage to strike out 11 batters. Only three of her runs were earned.
Billig was the only player with multiple hits for Grove City, going 3-for-3 with a double.