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Softball team pursues 2nd round

Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
The Ligonier Valley High School softball infielders perform their traditional hand slapping routine prior to taking the field. The players are (from left) Maddy Grimm, Breanne Wallace, Hailey Umbaugh and catcher Brittney Lynch. Taken on 5/27/2013 at Donaldson field in Ligonier

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Top high school sports
By Peter Turcik
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Ligonier Valley High School Rams softball team came from behind in the top of the seventh to score two runs and take a 6-5 lead over Chestnut Ridge in the first round of the PIAA AA State Tournament. A flawless defensive stand in the bottom of the seventh gave Ligonier the win and sent them into the second round.

“It was a slugfest and that's what you expect in the state tournament,” said head coach Mark Zimmerman. “We didn't quit, we didn't give up, we didn't hang our heads, and I think some of the tough teams we've played coming in to here helps that. You know coming in that's the kind of ball you are going to see. You just have to respond when you get up and you have to respond when you get down.”

Maddy Grimm scored the first run of the game in the third inning, hitting a deep ball that almost cleared the fence. Grimm rounded second before the ball fell to the Chestnut Ridge outfielder, who dropped it and was unable to recover before Grimm made it home.

After giving up two runs in the bottom of the third inning, Grimm stepped up again in the fifth and hit the ball over the fence, bringing pinch hitter Courtney Lear in for a two-run home run.

Chestnut Ridge took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs. In the top of the sixth, a Brittany Lynch single drove in pinch runner Kari Kuhn to bring Ligonier within one.

In the seventh inning, Lear got on base because of an error and Grimm received an intentional walk. Lear was forced out on a Jackie Berry grounder and Berry was also forced out at second base on a Breanne Wallace hit.

“We knew that we had to just keep putting the ball in play and let the chips fall where they may. Once we got that lead off girl on base was paramount. Once you get the lead off girl on there is a pretty good chance you can score,” Zimmerman noted.

With the tying run in Grimm on third and two outs, Courtney Frappier hit a ground ball to the short stop that bobbled it and was unable to make a play. The error allowed Grimm to tie the game, and another error for Rachel Wallace allowed Breanne Wallace to score and take the lead.

Going into the seventh, pitcher Hailey Umbaugh said she was nervous, but had confidence in her fielders. Rachel Wallace and Grimm made back-to-back catches, and a strikeout from Umbaugh ended the game and punched the Lady Rams' ticket into the next round.

“I didn't know what to think when she swung and didn't hit it,” Umbaugh commented. “I guess I was in disbelief. I was really happy.”

Peter Turcik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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