Half a softball or less is just about how close the James Buchanan Lady Rocket softball team came within being crowned District 3 champions for the first-time ever.
But as they say, it wasn’t meant to be.
The Eastern York Golden Knights dodged a would-be walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning and beat JB 1-0 on Friday in the District 3 Class AAAA championship at Big Spring High School.
Next up for JB (15-7) is the PIAA state tournament which starts Monday against District 11 champion Blue Mountain (17-6). The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Pottsville High School.
Here’s the set-up for the dramatic finish for JB (16-6) in the bottom of the seventh.
Kirstyn Atheron led off with a single and Maria Burkett reached on a bunt. Alyssa Blair then moved both runners up with her sacrifice bunt. The Golden Knights opted to load the bases by intentionally walking Lindsey Meyers.
The Lady Rockets’ Maddie Spencer, who was 0-for-2 in her previous at-bats against Eastern York pitcher Maelynn Leber, then came up to bat and on an 0-and-2 count she brought everyone to their feet when she launched a long fly ball down the left field line.
JB thought it had a historic victory, but the ball stayed just foul by mere inches and flew past the foul ball.
“I thought she had it,” JB coach Troy Pittman said. “The efforts were there. We came up a little short or a few inches to the right. Give credit to their pitcher. We put the ball in play and only had two strikeouts, but we weren’t able to square many pitches up.”
Leber would end up getting a strikeout for the second out and a ground out to finish off the Golden Knights’ victory.
“I’m disappointed with the result, but grateful for the experience,” Pittman said. “Playing for a District 3 championship was awesome. The support from the students, parents and school staff is greatly appreciated. I hope we can bounce back for Monday’s game. The goal was to get to states this year and we reached it. Everything else is icing on the cake.”
Despite the loss JB senior pitcher Jenna Mongold was stellar on the mound. She struck out 13 batters and scattered 4 hits. She also had the only other hit, and infield single in the sixth.
The games only run came in the top of the sixth as Kelsey Felix delivered a 2-out RBI infield single.
NOTES: A correction from a previous story that stated Lady Rockets were the first team in school history to reach a District 3 championship was incorrect. The Rocket boys soccer team reached and won the District 3 Class AAA championship in 1956.