MILLERSVILLE — Chambersburg may not have been able to score a run off North Penn ace pitcher Julia Shearer. After all, she kept them scoreless through eight innings.
But the game did not progress any further because of controversial and dubious call in the top of the eighth inning that allowed North Penn to score the game’s only run.
The Knights took a 1-0 victory over the Trojans in a PIAA Class 6A semifinal game Tuesday evening at Millersville University’s Seaber Softball Stadium.
Chambersburg’s season ended with a 22-4 record. They will remember plenty of good memories, but they will also carry around the pain that a missed call provides.
“When I shook hands with (North Penn coach Rick Torresani) after the game, he said that was absolutely the wrong call,” Trojan coach Chris Skultety said. “For this game — with both teams battling the whole way — to come down to a call like that, I don’t know what to say. It wasn’t even a bang-bang play.”
Here’s how the run was scored. Annabelle Smink led off the top of the eighth with a solid double to right-center. A grounder to shortstop Addison Gsell was dropped at first base, putting runners on the corners. After Trojan pitcher Kylee Miller got a strikeout, Sophia Orth lifted a fly ball to medium depth centerfield.
Chambersburg centerfielder Carly Benedict settled under it and threw a one-hop strike to catcher Paetow as Smink ran home. Paetow caught the ball in her glove’s web and made the tag well before Smink reached home plate.
“I was already celebrating,” Benedict said.
Paetow said, “Perfect throw; perfect tag.”
Except the call, inexplicably, was “Safe.”
Skultety said, “When I asked the ump about the call, he said she missed the tag.”
“It was a one-hopper on a line and a great shot by Carly,” Paetow said.
Miller said, “She was out. We’ve had that play a couple times before this year with Carly’s arm, and Sam knows how to get in position to make the tag.”
Miller played a huge role in the tense game, limited North Penn (27-0), which will play Hempfield Area in the championship game on Thursday, to six hits, two walks and a hit batter while striking out seven.
“The game was the most important one of the year and I was really, really leaving everything out there,” Miller said. “I was just eating up that outside corner since he was giving it to us.”
Miller escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third; a two-on, two-out threat in the fourth; and stranded a runner on second in the seventh.
Paetow said, “I think it was Ky’s best game of the year considering the situation we were in. She was hitting her spots like a machine.”
“Kylee was phenomenal,” Skultety said. “She attacked the strike zone and got out of tough situations. She battled all game and kept us in it.”
The problem was, North Penn’s Shearer was at least as good as advertised, it not better. She limited the Trojans to just two hits and no walks (the only other runner was a hit batter) and struck out 15.
The two-time Gatorade Pa. Player of the Year was extremely fast, threw a good curve, a tough riseball and a devastating changeup.
“That was by far the best changeup I’ve ever seen,” said Paetow, who rarely strikes out but was handcuffed twice by the deadly pitch.
Benedict said, “She had a lot of movement and a great changeup. And she got us on the riseball, too. But it wasn’t the speed, it was the movement.”
Chambersburg’s biggest threat came in the third inning when Benedict laced a double to the fence in left-center with two outs. Bree Paetow then beat out in infield single to the right side.
First baseman Brie Wilmot dropped the ball, but picked it up in time to nail Benedict at home plate for the out.
Skultety said, “Maybe if she hadn’t hesitated there at third, but I don’t know. It was just hard to get something going against her.”
The Trojans had only one other runner to second base. Benedict was hit by a pitch in the sixth with one out and moved to second on a fielder’s choice. But a strikeout ended the threat.
“We just didn’t get the bat to the ball enough,” Skultety said, “but we really battled all game. That call will haunt us for a long time.
“I just want to give a shoutout to the four seniors (Miller, Benedict, Morgan Stockslager and Jaden Stull). They will be greatly missed. Their leadership this year kept us together and they kept the tradition going for sure.”