NEWVILLE — It is no exaggeration to call a 20-2 softball team the “Comeback Kids.”
It works for Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety, who has watched his team come back time and time again in games this year — “Probably 12 or 13 times we’ve been behind and came back to win,” he said.
It happened again Thursday afternoon in the Mid Penn Conference championship game at Big Spring H.S. Facing Keystone champion Bishop McDevitt (19-2), the Trojans fell behind 2-0, tied it up, went behind 3-2, tied it, and scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-3 victory.
Chambersburg will next play in the quarterfinals of the District 3 Class 6A playoffs on Thursday, May 27 at 3:15 p.m. at Norlo Park (the game start time was moved up for a graduation). The opponent of the No. 2 seed Trojans will be the winner of a first-round game between No. 7 Cumberland Valley and No. 10 Hempfield, although those pairings are still unofficial.
Against Crusaders ace pitcher Olivia Murphy, Erin Pattillo led off the top of the seventh inning with a single, and promptly stole second base. She moved to third on a fielder’s choice grounder by Hannah Runk.
Murphy pitched carefully to Alyssa Brechbill and ended up walking her, then gave an intentional free pass to Sam Paetow. That brought up Kenzie Boyd.
“I told her she should take it personally that they gave out the walks to get to her,” Skultety said.
Boyd delivered by hitting a fly ball into right-centerfield that scored Pattillo easily. And when the throw skipped pass the catcher, Brechbill alertly kept running and also scored on the play.
“Brech never gave up and scored,” Skultety said. “Boyd also had a great game (in left field), with a nice diving catch again. She is the definition of hustle.”
Mackenzie Stake (14-1) went the distance on the mound for the win. She gave up five hits and walked two batters, and struck out six.
But she was particularly strong over the last four innings, retiring 15 of 16 batters.
“She was a little juiced up early, got behind in the count, and they got some hits,” Skultety said, “although we helped them out a little, too. But once Mack settled in, she was good.”
McDevitt, the No. 1 seed in the District 3 Class 4A playoffs, struck for a run in the first and another in the third to go ahead 2-0. In the top of the fourth, Brechbill and Paetow hit singles and a sac fly by Boyd brought in one run, followed by an RBI single by Saleen Null to tie the game 2-2.
The Crusaders went ahead again in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, but the Trojans tied it 3-3 in the top of the sixth. Boyd singled, Null walked and Boyd scored on a base hit by Katelin Secrist.
Skultety said, “Their pitcher was pretty good. Her changeup wasn’t working, but the umpire was calling the outside strike and she kept hitting that spot. We had six strikeouts looking (10 overall, the most this season), so we just didn’t adjust.”
In the fifth, Chambersburg put runners on second and third base and no outs, with Runk, Brechbill and Paetow — their top three RBI players — ready to inflict some damage. But all three struck out looking.
“We’ve seen three good pitchers this week, and played high-intensity games,” Skultety said. “We’ve got a scrimmage game Monday and we’ll be ready to play Thursday.”