G-A softball team heads to district semifinals

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Middle infielders Tiffany Briggs (left) and Wendy Wolff worked together to pick off a Hamburg runner. (Bob Stoler Photos)

The Greencastle-Antrim softball team took its deep breath early in the District 3-AAA playoffs and then continued to roll into the semifinals last week.

UPDATE: A 4-2 loss to Manheim Central in the semifinals has put G-A in Thursday's consolation final, battling for the final berth to states.

The Blue Devils’ 4-1 quarterfinal win over Shippensburg, a team that G-A had beaten twice in the regular season as part of the Mid-Penn Conference Colonial Division slate, seemed easy compared to its tussle with Hamburg, which came out of Berks County with a 14-5 record.

In a game that went through seven innings without any scoring, just putting the ball in play is key. The Devils did just that in the eighth inning and had a little help from Hamburg in the strategy department. Tiffany Briggs led off the eighth with her second hit of the game and Mary Ward was hit by a pitch. Brittany Norling moved up both runners with a sacrifice bunt. A strikeout made it two outs and Hamburg opted to fill first by intentionally walking Wendy Wolff. But that brought up Rachel Kline who promptly laced a ball at the shortstop. The fielder was able to knock it down but not in time to get anyone out, including Briggs who scored the run that ended the 1-0 game.

While the Hamburg hurler went head-to-head with G-A’s Autumn Appleby, it was Appleby who continued to shine with an 11-strikeout shutout with no walks. Hamburg’s Tara Klee fanned 13 with two walks. She had a perfect game going through five innings before Briggs doubled to lead off the sixth inning. That led to a chance for the Devils that Hamburg squashed with a double play. G-A threatened again in the seventh when Wolff hit a bunt single and swiped two bases with one out. She was, however, left stranded.

Shippensburg must have seemed like a breeze after that, althought the Greyhounds have been hitting the top of their game at the end of the season. Ship had taken down favored Big Spring a round earlier. The Devils had two lopsided wins over the Hounds this season, but the inproved play of the underdog showed in the 4-1 final.

The Hounds took the lead in the top of the second inning playing small ball and capitalizing on a G-A error. The Blue Devils came back quickly with three in the bottom of the frame. G-A put Ship to the test by putting the ball in play and a series of errors spelled trouble for the would-be upstarts. That 3-1 cushion was all Appleby would need to ink her 11th win of the season with an eight K/three hit performance. Amanda Wink drove in extra insurance in the third with a single following a Jenna Crunkleton double.

G-A is set to take on Manheim Central at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in a district semifinal. The game will be played at New Oxford High School.

Middle infielders Tiffany Briggs (left) and Wendy Wolff worked together to pick off a Hamburg runner. (Bob Stoler Photos)