FAYETTEVILLE — Yes, they got behind again.
Yes, they put up a crooked number again to take the lead.
And yes, the Chambersburg softball team picked up another victory Tuesday afternoon.
This was a very big win, too, a 7-5 verdict over Penn Manor in a District 3 Class 6A semifinal game at Norlo Park. It pushed the Trojans into the district championship game for the first time since 2017. Chambersburg (22-2), the No. 2 seed, will face No. 1 Warwick (18-3) on Thursday at Lebanon Valley College at 11 a.m.
The Trojans have also qualified for the PIAA State Tournament.
“The girls don’t let stuff get to them,” Chambersburg coach Chris Skultety said. “We do not get worried when we get behind. I tell them to just enjoy the moment and make your legacy.”
Freshman Samantha Paetow has certainly gotten a jump on creating her legacy. The cleanup hitter has risen to the occasion several times already this season and she did it again Tuesday in the game’s biggest moment.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, trailing 4-1, with the bases loaded, two outs and a 3-2 count, Paetow belted a line drive into right-centerfield for a double that cleared the bases and tied the score.
Paetow did not deny that it was a huge situation.
“I knew it was all or nothing,” she said. “But I still felt comfortable up there. (Penn Manor pitcher Avalyn Hoffert) was hitting the outside corner a lot, so I moved up a little and she threw me one over the plate. I could tell it was gonna be good when I hit it.”
Skultety said, “Sam has come through quite a bit for us, and that was just huge. She just doesn’t get frazzled — she was 0-for-4 in the last game and put it behind her. And if she hadn’t gotten that hit there, she would have just moved on. She’s like a lot of our players; they keep the same demeanor, no matter what is happening.”
The fifth inning began innocently enough, with an out, a walk to pinch-hitter Ashli Ganoe and another out. To that point, Hoffert had limited Chambersburg to just three hits.
But Hannah Runk singled to put two runners on. Alyssa Brechbill hit a grounder that the shortstop threw high to first to load the bases, and that opened the door.
Paetow hit her clutch double, Kenzie Boyd singled and Saleen Null also got a base hit. On Null’s hit, courtesy runner Alexis Reichelderfer scored, and Boyd followed her home when the Comets made an errant throw, making it 6-4.
“We had to adjust to the umpire’s strike zone,” Skulktety said. “When we did we started to attack those outside pitches and that forced her to come inside and that’s right into our zone.”
The Trojans struck for an insurance run in the sixth on a base hit by Mackenzie Stake, a walk to Erin Pattillo and a Runk single to make it 7-4.
The Comets (19-5), who will play Ephrata (11-12) on Thursday for third place and a berth in states, did not go down quietly in the top of the seventh.
Sophia Rineer, who was 3-for-3 to that point with a double, single and solo home run, hit a shot up the middle that struck the glove of the pitcher, Stake, ricocheted to Runk at shortstop and Runk’s strong throw got her by an eyelash. Audrey Paterson then drilled a grounder, but right at Runk, and there were two down.
But Tori Hook, who was 3-for-4, hit the next pitch over the fence in left-center and Emily Riggs followed with a double to right-center.
Skultety went to the mound, but only to calm Stake.
“No way I was taking her out there,” he said. “She deserved this moment.”
And Stake induced a foul pop to first baseman Katelin Secrist for the final out.
Skultety said, “They are a good-hitting team.”
NOTES: Runk was 3-for-4 and missed a home run by about a foot on her third-inning double … Paetow had two doubles, the first a bloop to right that scored the game’s first run … Stake (17-1) allowed 10 hits, struck out seven and walked only one … Paterson and Hook each had two RBIs for the Comets … The Trojans did not make an error … Secrist made a fine catch of a foul ball right in front of the Penn Manor dugout … Skultety was appreciative of the large home crowd at Norlo. “They need a shout-out — the fans did a great job being a part of that win,” he said.