The historic softball season for the James Buchanan Lady Rockets came to an end Thursday.
After trailing the Lady Rockets 2-0 after 3 innings the resilient Mt. Pleasant Vikings scored 4 unanswered runs over the final 5 innings, including 2 in the eighth inning to pull out a 4-2 victory in a PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal game at Mt. Aloysius College.
Mt. Pleasant (21-1) now moves on to next Monday’s semifinals against either Elizabeth Forward or Grove City, who were postponed Thursday.
JB’s season ends at 16-8, but it was the District 3 Class 4A runners-up and advanced further than any softball team in school history.
“It’s bittersweet,” JB coach Troy Pittman said. “We competed toe-to-toe with an extremely good team. I was so proud of all the girls.”
The Vikings trailed 2-0 after 3 innings, but were able to tie the game with single runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
After JB went scoreless in the bottom of the seventh Mt. Pleasant didn’t waste any time taking the lead in the first extra inning.
Autumn Shogun led off with a double to center and Sydney Kanuch chased her home with the go ahead run on a single to center.
Sydni Overly then hit a ground ball to second baseman Maddie Spencer, who attempted to tag Kanuch, but the umpire said she missed and Overly was safe at first. After Lexi Puskar laid down a sacrifice bunt, Haylie Brunson drove in the fourth run with a sacrifice fly to center.
“They got some timely hits to tie it up and to go ahead,” Pittman said.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Lady Rockets as the built a 2-0 with single runs in the first and second innings.
In the first, Maddie Bailey reached on a bunt, but was forced out at second on Jenna Mongold’s fielders choice. Mongold moved up to second on a wild pitch and with 2 outs Kirstyn Atherton delivered an RBI double.
Then in the second, with 2 outs, Spencer drilled a double, stole third and came home on Bailey’s suicide squeeze bunt.
“We were really hitting the ball well off their pitcher and were up 2-0 going into the fourth inning,” Pittman said. “You start to realize we have a chance to knock this team off. But their offense was relentless up and down the lineup.”
The Vikings offense was relentless, but more so all-state pitcher Carolyn Alincic shut JB down the final 6 innings.
The first 2 innings the Lady Rockets had 4 hits and 2 runs. Over the final 6 innings Alincic held JB 2 hits and zero runs.
Probably Alincic’s 3 best innings were the third, sixth and seventh when she thwarted possible scoring chances for JB.
In the third, Atherton walked and was sacrificed to second by Maria Burkett, but Alincic got a strike out and an infield pop out to end the threat.
In the sixth, JB again had a runner at second as Alyssa Blair singled and moved up on a wild pitch, but again Alincic got out of the jam with another infield pop out and a strike out.
Then in the seventh, Mongold hit a 2-out double, but was stranded as Alincic got the final out on another infield pop out.
“We had a few chances late, but their experience started to show,” Pittman said.
Despite the end the result Pittman said he couldn’t be more proud of this group, especially the seven seniors – Lizzie Pittman, Mongold, Burkett, Krystin Nichols, Grace Amsley and Ashley Grove.
“I will really miss those seven seniors,” Pittman said. “Their accomplishments speak for themselves. I wish them all the best. I really appreciated the effort from them and my coach staff. I will remember this run the rest of my life.”
Pittman also acknowledged the support the team received.
“I want to thank all the parents, school staff and the Rocket boys,” Pittman said. “The atmosphere was unbelievable during this run.”
Mt. Pleasant 4, James Buchanan 2
Mt. Pleasant 000 101 02 – 4-10
James Buchanan 110 000 00 – 2-6
Maddie Bailey SS 4-0-2-1, Jenna Mongold P 3-1-1-0, Kate Ebersole DP 4-0-0-0, Kirstyn Atherton 3B 3-0-1-1, Maria Burkett C 2-0-0-0, Brenna Hartman CR 0-0-0-0, Alyssa Blair CF 4-0-1-0, Lindsey Meyers 1B 3-0-0-0, Krystin Nichols RF 3-0-0-0, Maddie Spencer 2B 3-1-1-0, Grace Amsley LF 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-2-6-2
Haylie Brunson 4-0-1-1, Katie Hutter 4-0-2-0, Mary Smithnosky 5-0-2-0, Hannah Genibus 4-1-0-0, Autumn Shogun 4-1-2-0, Taylor Sofranco 0-1-0-0, Sydney Kanuch 4-1-1-1, Sydni Overly 4-0-1-2, Rae McNair 1-0-0-0, Abby Swank 2-0-0-0, Lexi Puskar 0-0-0-0. Totals 36-4-10-4.
2B-(MP) Overly, Shogun; (JB) Atherton, Spencer, Mongold.
MT. PLEASANT PITCHING
Alincic (W) 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
JAMES BUCHANAN PITCHING
Mongold (L) 8 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K