BY RON PONIEWASZ JR.





RPONIEWASZ@NCNEWSONLINE.COM











MEADVILLE -- The Wilmington High softball team blitzed through its schedule in the regular season.





Yesterday it was a different story for the Lady Greyhounds.





Katie Spacht's sharp single to center with no outs in the seventh plated Brittany Learn with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh to lift Harbor Creek to a dramatic 3-2 win over top-seeded Wilmington in the District 10 Class AA semifinals at the Lincoln Avenue Softball Complex.





"We knew it would be this type of game," Lady Greyhounds coach Paul Smargiasso said. "Unfortunately we opened the door a little too often. They are a good team and they deserved to win, it wasn't a fluke."





The fourth-seeded Lady Huskies (16-6) will take on Northwestern, a 2-1 victory over West Middlesex, at 5 p.m. Monday at Penn State-Behrend in the championship. The winner will advance to the PIAA playoffs. It is a rematch of last year's District 10 championship, won by Northwestern.





With the score tied at 2, Learn led off the seventh with a walk off reliever Brooke Buchowski. Andrea Collins followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Lauren Roth bunted for a single to load the bases to set up the winning hit by Spacht.





"We were hoping for her to hit a nice ground ball to throw it home, but that didn't happen," Smargiasso said. "It's one of those moments that will linger.





"When the end came, they were better than we were."





Harbor Creek coach Joe Sholtis was thinking the same as Smargiasso.





"I was hoping for a ground ball and we got better than a ground ball," Sholtis said.





Buchowski (9-1) took the loss in relief. She pitched to four batters and didn't retire a hitter. She walked one and allowed three singles.





Smargiasso made the change to start the bottom of the seventh, going with Buchowski.





Wilmington starting pitcher Sydney Cuscino believed the change after six innings was the right one.





"I felt comfortable going back out there, but Brooke has done an awesome job for us," Cuscino said.





Said Smargiasso, "Our pitching coach (Sydney's dad Dave) knows her well and felt she was tiring. Brooke has a little bit more pop in her pitches so we thought that would be a good change.





"We went with Sydney to start for several reasons. It was her turn and I think we have just a little bit better defense with Sydney pitching and Brooke at shortstop."





The Lady Greyhounds, in their fourth season with a varsity softball program, broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fifth when Kara Kendall grounded out to score Cuscino.





Harbor Creek rallied in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs for a 2-1 lead.





Wilmington (17-1) got an unearned run in the sixth to tie the game at 2. Carnie Smith led off with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Courtney Vincent then hit a soft liner to Ashlyn Zellefrow at short. Zellefrow made a diving catch and Smith had strayed too far off second, assuming it would fall in.





However, Zellefrow threw the ball over the head of Denise Langer covering second and Smith was able to score without a throw.





"I really thought when we caught that ball up 2-1 we were in good shape," Sholtis said. "She rushed the throw when she didn't have to. I thought maybe things weren't going to go our way."





Said Cuscino: "I was so happy that we tied it. Everybody was pumped up because we tied it and we were still in it."





Cuscino worked the first six innings, allowing three hits and two runs -- one earned -- with one walk and four strikeouts.





"I thought Sydney was as good as we've seen all year," Smargiasso said. "She pitched very well."





Abby Kobylinski (15-4) earned the win. She pitched seven innings, surrendering two hits and two runs -- one earned -- with three walks and seven strikeouts.





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