May 24—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A couple tough breaks resulted in a bases-loaded jam for Delanie Davison during her brief relief pitching appearance in the fifth inning of a District 6 Class 1A softball quarterfinal playoff game on Monday.
When Davison moved back to her shortstop position with no outs and one run in, she made a play that essentially quelled a potential Homer-Center rally.
Davison caught a solid liner hit by Mel George and quickly tossed to second baseman Anna Gunby to complete a double play.
"That was huge," Conemaugh Valley coach Paula McCleester said after the second-seeded Blue Jays defeated seventh-seeded Homer-Center 7-3. "That could have turned out much differently."
Pitcher Hailey Stiffler, who started the game and then reentered with the bases full in the fifth, ended the inning with one of her eight strikeouts at the Blue Jays' home field.
"That was very important," Davison said of her double play catch and throw. "That was definitely really big."
At the plate, Davison had three hits and two runs scored for the 16-3 Blue Jays. Conemaugh Valley tallied 11 hits overall, with Anna Gunby collecting two, including a solo homer down the line in left field in the fourth.
Katie Ledwich and Bella Grecek each had two hits, with Ledwich driving in a pair and Grecek knocking in a run.
"We definitely came into the game really confident," Davison said. "We really wanted to win and keep going."
On Thursday, Conemaugh Valley will host third-seeded Portage, a 12-1 winner over sixth-seeded Blacklick Valley. McCleester said the fact that her Blue Jays previously beat the Mustangs twice only will make the challenge even more difficult.
"The energy is going to be crazy here. The fans are going to be crazy here," McCleester said. "That's what softball is about. You have to be prepared. It's not a walk in the park no matter what the outcome was in the prior games. It is about 'now.' "
Homer-Center (4-11) opened with three hits and a run in the top of the first. The Wildcats added single runs in the third and the fifth, with the potential for more with the bases loaded and no outs prior to the double play.
"Our conference is very tough and it gets us prepared for games like this," Homer-Center coach Matthew Wilson said. "Stuff falls the right way and you never know what's going to happen."
Julia King tallied three hits and drove in a run for the Wildcats. In the circle, she struck out five. Alaina Fabin produced two hits and two runs.
"You can't count out any team in District 6," McCleester said. "I don't care what they are ranked. It's different conferences. There are travel players. They're all aggressive girls. We just had to play the game."
Despite the double-digit hit total, McCleester and assistant coach Vicki Markiewicz stressed to their players that they'll have to do much better at the plate on Thursday.
"They have to be consistent at bat," McCleester said. "We had a lot of inconsistencies today and we're going to work on that."
Wilson and the Wildcats peered to the long-term future.
"We have a very young team," Wilson said. "We're losing three seniors. Most of them are coming back and we'll come back even stronger."