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Cipalla’s Blast Lifts Harbor Creek Past Sharon and Into the 3A State Championship Game powered by N. Washington Rodeo

Harbor Creek coach Tim Caputo celebrates with Annabella Cipalla after her 3-run home run in the PIAA Class 3A semifinals. Photo by Brian Hagberg.

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Annabella Cipalla’s 3-run home run in the sixth inning broke a 5-5 tie and helped propel Harbor Creek to a 9-6 win over Sharon in the PIAA Class 3A semifinals.

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With one out and runners on second and third, Cipalla launched a 1-2 pitch over the centerfield fence to put the Huskies in front, 8-5.

“I think I knew instantly (it was a home run),” Cipalla said in her Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview. “It’s one of those hits that you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s gone.’ So that was how that felt coming off, it felt amazing. I was so excited knowing I could do that for my team. Helping us to that win.”

See Cipalla’s full Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview:

                  

That win will send Harbor Creek to the state championship game for the first time since 2006 (the Huskies defeated Lakeland, 2-1), where they will face Juniata, a 5-0 winner over Conwell-Egan. The championship game is set for 1:30 p.m. at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Softball Park in State College.

“This moment’s been all about these girls,” Harbor Creek coach Tim Caputo said. “I told them it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We have that mentality all year, ‘We over me.’”

See Caputo’s full interview:

With the win, the Huskies also atoned for a 7-6 loss to Sharon in the District 10 title game.

“All of us going into it just wanted to beat them,” Harbor Creek’s Addison Lucas said. “It was a tough loss and now we’re just ready to keep going.”

                          

See Lucas’s full Cole Orthodontic Associates player interview:

Cipalla had a big day at the plate, going 3-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and four RBI. She said she was “anxious to hit the ball” when she faced Sharon’s Maddy Vogan in the D10 championship, but learned from that experience and took a different approach on Monday.

“I was calm in the batter’s box,” Cipalla said. “I was looking for my pitches, I wasn’t going for her pitches. I just really knew what I was looking for. I think I learned what worked best for me and what I can work off based off what she’s pitching. Last game, I was really out in front, I was anxious to hit the ball. This time, I was waiting back and I was looking for my pitch.”

The Tigers had an opportunity to get on the board early with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the first. Lucas sandwiched a strikeout between two ground outs to get out of the jam without giving up a run.

“I had to trust my defense,” Lucas said. “I was a little bit rattled in the beginning, but I didn’t let that stop me and neither did our defense.”

               

Harbor Creek built off that momentum in the bottom of the inning. Brooklynn Cipalla drew a 1-out walk and Annabella doubled her home for a 1-0 advantage.

Sharon answered right back in the second. Lacy Root and Chloe Pagliarini drew consecutive walks. Two outs later, Vogan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Claire Bodien hit a grounder to short, but Brooke Przybylski couldn’t get a clean throw to third and Root scored. Pagliarini scored on a wild to put the Tigers in front, 2-1.

Sharon added three more in the fourth. Pagliarini and Jordan Curtician hit consecutive singles to start the inning and Dalani Bayer walked to load the bases. Vogan, who was intentionally walked three times, stepped in and lined the first, and only, pitch she saw into center. The ball went off Georgia Weber’s glove and Pagliarini bolted home.

Bodien brought Curtician in on an RBI ground out and Mya Bundrant’s sac fly scored Bayer to make it 5-1 Tigers. It appeared Sharon would get another run as Mary Claire Brown hit a grounder through the gap and into right field, but Brooklynn Cipalla charged the ball and got Brown at first to end the inning.

“We work on that during game warm-ups and if the ball comes to you in right field on a shallow field, if you can make a play at first base, let’s do it,” Caputo said. “And she did it.”

“That (play) was so important,” Annabella Cipalla said. “She’s one of the strongest arms on the team, she’s one of the best players overall, so I think the team had faith in her to get that out.”

Talon King led off the bottom of the inning with a single and went to second on an error. Weber’s sac bunt moved King to third and Hannah Smith followed with a walk to put runners on the corners. One out later, Kayla Bresee hit a towering pop fly to the left side of the infield. Pagliarini couldn’t secure the catch and King scored. Maggie Konieczki then hit an RBI single to score Smith and cut the lead to 5-3.

The Huskies tied it in the fifth. Annabella Cipalla hit a leadoff single. One out later, King reached on an error. A passed ball allowed the runners to move to second and third. Weber hit a ground ball to short and Pagliarini’s throw went off the top of Bodien’s glove at first. The ball ricocheted so far behind the base that both runners scored to tie it at 5-5.

A year after going 6-12, Sharon finishes the season 25-1 and will lose only three seniors (Root, Curtician, and Kurtasia Chester).

               

Bayer, Root, Pagliarini, and Curtician each had a hit. Pagliarini scored twice, while Bayer, Root, and Curtician scored once. Root, Bodien, and Bundrant each had an RBI.

Vogan took the loss, allowing nine runs, four earned, on nine hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.

Konieczki, Brooklynn Cipalla, and King each had two hits. King and Brooklynn Cipalla each scored twice and drove in a run. Weber had two RBI and Smith scored a run.

Lucas allowed six runs, two earned, on four hits with eight walks and 10 strikeouts.

                       

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