NEW CASTLE —
The Lady Dragons showed how well they could hit in the third.
Neshannock made it 7-2 with a run in the second, but Central strung together four consecutive hits and cut its deficit to 7-5 when Paige Mock smacked a two-run double to right-center field. The Lady Dragons’ rally was cut short though. Kassidy Snyder was thrown out at first on a slow roller to the pitcher, and while Mock moved to third on the play, she rounded the bag too far and was thrown out on a great throw by first baseman Alexandra Fischer.
“That’s the way we play the game,” Kimmel said. “We have good arms in the infield, and we’re very aggressive with our throws.”
Neshannock was equally assertive at the plate. The Lady Lancers tacked on another run in the fourth. DeMatteo reached on — surprise, surprise — a bunt single and eventually scored on a fielder’s choice by Burrelli. While they left the bases loaded in the fourth, they picked up where they left off in the fifth.
Two more bunt singles and another error on a bunt loaded the bases, and Amanda Furst again came through with a two-run single to left field. Things began to unravel for a defeated Central squad after that. The Lady Dragons committed an error, allowed a stolen base and gave up an RBI single to Fischer. Another error meant the game-ending run was on third, and Graziani’s roller to first base was slow enough to score Burrelli.
“The speed helped us a lot,” said Rayanna Furst, one of five Lady Lancers with multiple hits. “Throughout the season, we tried to get the slap-bunts down, get baserunners and have the power hitters hit us in.”
The game plan has Neshannock going back to a place it’s rather familiar with in Penn State University. The Lady Lancers beat Philipsburg-Osceola at Nittany Lion Softball Park in their PIAA first-round matchup with the defending state champs. The game was suspended because of rain, so Neshannock returned to State College the following day and won, 5-3, in extra innings.
The Lady Lancers, who left yesterday’s game dancing to music on the bus as they always do, hope the confines remain friendly on Friday.
“The atmosphere was really cool,” said Rayanna Furst of their first trip to Penn State. “The first day we were a little shaky with the rain. The second day we were pretty relaxed — we still had some nerves bouncing around — but everyone’s excited. They’re already jammin’ (to music) on the bus.”
Some things were different in this game. Others stayed the same.