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DUBOIS, Pa. – Kaylee Guidce said she cried.
They were tears of joy.
Guidce cried after her chopper up the middle brought home Laura Rittenhouse from third with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 4-3 Punxsutawney victory over WPIAL runner-up Ellwood City in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A softball playoffs Monday afternoon at Heindl Field in DuBois.
“I cried and ran to the seniors,” Guidce, only a sophomore, said. “I really wanted to do it for them.”
Guidce and the District 9 champion Lady Chucks were only in the position to win the game in the ninth thanks to freshman Ciarra Toven’s heroics in the seventh.
With Punxsutawney trailing 3-2 with two outs and nothing going on in the seventh, Kendal Johnston worked a walk bringing up Toven, the hero of the District 9 title game with two home runs.
Toven didn’t disappoint, roping the game-tying double to left-center scoring Johnston all the way from first.
“They had been throwing me a lot of off-speed stuff,” Toven said. “I was just looking to wait back on that, and if they threw me a fastball, I would try to drive it.”
When neither team scored in the eighth or ninth innings, the game went to the international tie-breaking system starting in the 10th with a runner placed at second to start the inning.
Ellwood City got its runner, Angie Nardone, to third with one out on a fly out to center by Kyla Servick.
But Johnston, the senior pitcher for Punxsutawney, got Aliya Garroway to pop back to her and then struck out Maria Ioanilli to escape the jam.
Johnston was scheduled to be the runner placed on second for Punxsutawney, but Rittenhouse went in as a courtesy runner to start the bottom of the 10th.
Ellwood City wanted nothing to do with Toven, intentionally walking her to bring Maddi Shiock to the plate.
Shiock loaded the bases with an infield single bringing up Guidice, who was 1-for-4 at the time while striking out in her two previous at-bats against Julia Nardone, the Wolverines’ pitcher.
“At that point, I was just trying to make contact because I didn’t want to swing too hard and overswing,” Guidice said. “Just hitting the ball was kind of the goal.”
Punxsutawney took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a two-run single by Allie Meko.
And the way Johnston was pitching, those two runs looked like they would hold up.
Through 5 ⅔ innings, Johnston allowed just one hit while striking out 11.
But, after two hard-hit outs in the sixth, Servick singled to center on a two-strike pitch.
Garroway then hit a pop-up about halfway between the circle and third base.
But third baseman Elliott Ferrent appeared to lose track of the ball, and it hit beside her putting runners on second and third.
After Ioanilli was intentionally walked, Servick scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.
Julia Nardone then delivered a two-run single to center to give Ellwood City the lead.
“We really all just wanted to come together (after that),” Guidice said. “We were all screaming. Everyone was hot. We were just trying to keep everybody up and motivated, especially Kendal. She pitched a lot of balls that inning. She really needed the support.”
Johnston ended up throwing one of the best games of her career going 10 innings allowing three runs, none earned, on seven hits and a walk while striking out 13.
Julia Nardone was nearly as good, allowing four runs, three earned, on nine hits and four walks while striking out eight.
Johnston was 2-for-3 with two walks and a run scored to pace Punxsutawney with Ferrent going 2-for-4 with a double.
Julia Nardone was 2-for-4 for Ellwood City.
Punxsutawney, which is in the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the PIAA Class 4A title in 2018, will face Cambria Heights, an 8-1 winner over Bermuda Springs, in the quarterfinals Thursday, June 10, at a site and time to be announced.
“I am beyond excited,” Guidice said. “I always knew we could do it.”
“I thought so too,” Toven chimed in about getting to the final eight in the state after a 7-9 regular season. “I knew we had it in us.”
Watch the full postgame interview with Guidice and Toven
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DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 14, LEECHBURG 9
DUBOIS, Pa. – District 9 champion DuBois Central Catholic built a 13-run lead after two innings and then had to hold off Leechburg, the third-place team out of the WPIAL, for a 14-9 win in the opening round of the PIAA Class 1A softball playoffs at Heindl Field in DuBois.
The Lady Cardinals scored seven times in the first inning and six more times in the second to take a 13-0 lead.
But Leechburg started clawing its way back in the game with a pair of runs in the third to make it 13-2 before DCC added a run in the bottom of the inning to go up 14-2.
The Blue Devils then erupted for seven runs in the fifth to close to within five, 14-9, and had the bases loaded with two outs.
Morgan Tyler, DCC’s starter, got Oliva Shimer to fly out in foul territory to second baseman Savannah Morelli to end the threat and then went on to work a 1-2-3 sixth.
Leechburg threatened again in the seventh when Bella Vozar singled with one out and Karli Mazak singled with two outs. But Tyler Skylyn Raypush to fly out to end the game.
DCC used seven hits to score the seven runs in the first inning with Jessy Frank delivering an RBI double for the inning’s lone extra-base hit.
Mia Meholick then started the six-run second with a monster shot to center, which ended the day for Leechburg starter Emma Ritchie.
After an error greeted reliever Anna Cibik, Melia Mitskavich had an RBI single, Madi Hoyt and Frank RBI doubles, Lauren Davidson an RBI groundout, and Emma Suplizio an RBI single to make it 13-0.
But just as DCC was thinking about a 15-run rule, Leechburg answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third thanks to a McKenna Pierce single and a double-steal situation where DCC took the out at second while allowing a run to score.
A Frank sac fly in the bottom of the inning to get the lead back to 12, 14-2.
The game remained 14-2 until the fifth when Leechburg used five singles, two walks, and a two-run error to cut the lead to 14-9.
Frank led DCC going 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored, and three RBIs, while Hoyt was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored.
Kaylee Risser (2-for-4, 1 walk, 1 RBI, 2 runs), Meholick (2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 runs), and Chelsea Busatto (2-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 run) each added two hits for DCC.
Pierce, Ritchie, and Vozar were all 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI for Leechburg with Maza going 2-for-4 with a run scored and Raypush going 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.
Tyler got the win going seven innings allowing nine runs, seven earned, on 13 hits, two walks, and a hit batter while striking out six.
Ritchie took the loss going one-plus inning allowing eight runs, all earned, on eight hits and a walk. Cibik pitched five innings allowing six runs, three earned, on six hits, and three walks while striking out five.
DCC will face Glendale, a 6-5 winner over Union (New Castle) in the quarterfinals Thursday, June 10, at a site and time to be announced.
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HIGHLANDS 7, CLEARFIELD 1
DUBOIS, Pa. – Breaking open a close game with three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth, WPIAL runner-up Highlands knocked off District 9 champion Clearfield, 7-1, in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs Monday afternoon at Heindl Field in DuBois.
“Hats off to them,” Clearfield manager Derek Danver said. “They outplayed us. They hit the ball well. I knew they were a good team. I knew they were a good hitting team. They just faced a pitcher who is going to Virginia Tech last game, so they are used to good pitching. They were able to put the bat on the ball today, and outplayed us.”
Highlands led 2-0 after scoring single runs in the third and fourth innings before breaking the game open with the three-run fifth.
The Rams used five singles in the inning to score the three runs and then got an RBI triple from Jaycee Haidze and an RBI single from Abbie Deiseroth in the sixth to make it 7-0.
Clearfield scored its lone run in the bottom of the sixth on an Alexis Bumbarger groundout that plated Lauren Ressler, who walked to start the inning.
But that was all the Lady Bison managed against Haidze, who got the win going seven innings allowing one earned run on four hits and four walks while striking out 10.
Haidze helped her own cause going 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored, and two RBIs.
Riley Pointkowski was 3-for-4 with a triple, a run scored, and an RBI for the Rams, while Deiseroth was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs, Kylie Zourelias was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Maera Williams was 2-for-3 with a walk.
Alaina Fedder went 2-for-3 for Clearfield with Ruby Singleton going 2-for-4.
Emma Hipps took the loss going seven innings allowing seven runs, six earned, on 14 hits and a walk while striking out three.
Highlands will face Bishop McDevitt in the quarterfinals Thursday, June 10, at a site and time to be announced.
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