Hempfield sacrifices itself to PIAA win
Monday afternoon, the Hempfield High School softball team proved that theory wrong en route to a 5-1 defeat of Central Mountain (12-12) in a PIAA first round playoff game at Boalsburg's Hess Field.
The Spartans' bats were cold for the second straight game, as they had only three hits, but Hempfield mastered all the other ingredients neccessary for sucess - pitching, defense and bunting.
All told, the Spartan's used six sacrifice bunts, all of which were performed to perfection, to set up three of their runs, and rode the dynamite arm of star pitcher Tina Skelly to defeat the District 6-AAA champion Wildcats.
'The short game got us a number of runs,' Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. 'They didn't handle it well at all, and we were executing it very well. We had several good ones which generated positive situations. Hey, that's how you score without any hits.'
Central Mountain also had the offensive woes, as the Wildcats also managed just three hits. Hempfield combined Skelly's 13 strikeout performance with an error-free defensive showcase to keep its opponent pinned to the floor the entire contest.
'I was real pleased with our defense,' Kalp, whose team had dismal defenisve day in last week's WPIAL Championship, said. 'It's really nice to have no errors, but I know we need to hit a lot better to keep moving on.'
According to Kalp, his teams' running into Central Mountain pitcher Amber Struble, who doesn't pitch as hard as many pitchers the Spartans have faced to this point, may have been a deterent.
One method Hempfield used to its advantage in the 3rd inning was, with one out, having back-to-back batters (Robin Regina and Ashley Hainsworth) beaned. Both runners then scored on a throwing error by Struble to first base on Linsdey Anderson's bunt attempt.
The Spatans used the sacrifice approach again in the 4th to score another run. After top hitter and catcher Amanda Bower, who was then pinch run for by Alli Czamecki, drew a walk, two consecutive sacrifeces were made to advance Czamecki to third. Nicole Scheeren then delievered an RBI single to make the score 3-0.
From there, it was Skelly's show, as the senior dominated the Wildcats in her future college's backyard (Penn State), who didn't hit one ball to the outfield or to the left side of the infield.
'Tina pitched a nice ballgame' Kalp said. 'They had three hits, but at this level you're going to give up the hits. Defensively, we had it all working today.'
The Spartans responded well after being upset by Baldwin last Thursday, and showed no signs of being discouraged.
'They're realists,' Kalp said. 'They realize the next time the play poorly, it's the last time in this uniform. We're at the end of the road now, and we can't afford to have another bad game.'
Hempfield plays Meadville on Thursday with the site and time for the game to be determined.