Devils bow out in first round of states

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Diamond Byers puts down a bunt. (Bob Stoler Photos)

Greencastle-Antrim finished its 2011 season Monday night on the highest stage of scholastic softball in Pennsylvania. Still it was an early exit for the Blue Devils as Class AAA first round opponent Bellefonte staged a late rally for a 5-2 win in the opening round showdown of state champs from the previous two years.

The ‘09 champion Devils were sailing in the venue of Penn State’s new softball stadium despite battling ‘10 champion Bellefonte, which had just a short jaunt to the game. G-A held an 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth. Autumn Appleby had mastered the Red Raider hitters, tossing a perfect game up until then with six strikeouts.

The Devils had scored runs on hits from Jenna Crunkleton and Rachel Kline (triple) in the first and third innings, it was the runners left aboard in the early going which may have hurt the most. Runners were left on third in each of the first three frames. Still the Devils had the lead.

It all came apart in the last of the fifth. A hit batter, a wild pitch and back-to-back doubles got the Bellefonte train going and it would not stop. Two in that inning tied it and that seemed all hat the Bellefonte pitching needed to clamp down on the Devil offense. The Raiders just continued in the sixth, going ahead and adding insurance on the strength of a triple. After not recording a hit until the fifth, Bellefonte left with five of their six hits for extra bases.

Kline was the only Devil with multiple hits. Tiffany Briggs doubled early and Brittany Norling hit a triple with two outs in the last-chance top of the sixth for G-A. She was left stranded.

This is G-A’s third trip to states in the last four years, winning it all in 2009. The Devils finished with an 18-8 mark. Bellefonte continues in the quest to repeat, carrying an 18-5 record.   

Districts

The Devils faced a must-win situation in order to get into the state tourney. After falling 4-2 in the District 3-AAA in the semifinals, G-A needed to win the consolation third-place game to get the district’s final berth into the state tournament. The Devils did that soundly with an 8-1 clubbing of Twin Valley.

Just one Twin Valley player managed any hits at all off Appleby, who went the distance with 10 Ks. She got solid support from the offense which chalked up 11 hits. Crunkleton (double) led the way, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Diamond Byers also drove in a pair on two hits (triple). Wendy Wolff also had two hits.

Under less than ideal conditions earlier in the week, G-A was tripped up by eventual District champion Manheim Central in the semifinal round. Extreme heat took its toll, but it was the Barons who found that late-gate surge to post the 4-2 victory. Manheim defeated Donegal for the district crown.

G-A again seemed to be coasting, taking a 2-0 advantage into the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch and an RBI from Norling. Manheim was able to string some hits together and capitalize on some free passes to round up three for the lead and got an extra one in the sixth. The Devils never got back to center with the offense, instead leaving nine runners on and going just 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Mary Ward collected three hits for the Devils and Amanda Wink checked in with three. Five Devils had single hits on the outing.

Autumn Appleby wrapped up a stellar Blue Devil career in the circle. (Bob Stoler Photos)