DuBOIS - She sprinted straight through the infield dirt, never skipping a beat. She extended full body, reached out her glove and stole away Kristina Torretti's at-bat in one swoop.
Yes, if there was a camera there, Jessica Strouse would have been featured on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays, because the Central Mountain second baseman made a highlight-like, top-play nominee probably better than the ones on there this morning.
Oh yeah, she wasn't too bad at the plate, either.
Central Mountain’s Whitney Peters attempts to tag DuBois’ Casey Wilcox yesterday in the District 6-9 Class AAAA?semifinal. CM?won 11-6 in DuBois.
The freshman made her District 6-9 Class AAAA debut in grand fashion, going 3-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored as Central Mountain controlled DuBois start to finish en route to an 11-6 win in yesterday's semifinal.
The victory puts the Lady Wildcats into the district championship Wednesday at Penn State against the winner of Mifflin County-State College. The other semifinal in Mifflin County was rained out and will be played today.
"We definitely showed up ready to play," Strouse said. "We were excited, and ready to prove that we belonged here. We came with the mindset that we were going to win.
"This is what we planned on seeing throughout the regular season. I think this is the kind of game we are capable of playing every single time."
If there's a mantra to the postseason for CM softball, it's real simple. You don't need to be a rocket scientist or nuclear physicist to figure out it.
Simply put, they belong.
"We knew that we belonged, and we always felt that we did," CM manager Dave Peters said.
All questions were answered in DuBois.
Entering the postseason with a 9-11 record, the Lady Wildcats have been edged out by one or two runs in probably seven or more of those losses. More impressive was each of the 11 losses came to a team currently in their district's postseason.
You didn't know to tell Shawn Deemer that.
The DuBois manager knew first hand his Lady Beavers, the No. 2 seed, were in for a tussle - losing to CM twice during the regular season.
"We thought that six runs might win the game," he said. "That's what us coaches were thinking before the game. We got to six, but they almost doubled us. We gave up a lot of walks, and we had some mental errors on top of that. They just happened at the wrong time. We scrapped back to get it back within one or two, but they would respond. That's the nature of the beast."
You can't walk batters and have mental miscues against a team crushing the ball.
DuBois did. End of story.
A throwing error and a rip down the left-field line by Strouse set up Brittany Koch's two-run single past the shortstop in the opening inning.
Three extra-base hits - by Strouse, Jordan Kaler and Koch - led to another two-spot in the third.
The wheels fell off in the fifth, similar to the Thunder on the Mountain tournament where CM (10-11) scored eight runs to rally back from an 8-2 hole.
RBIs by Ciarra Peters and Moriah Lindsey, coupled with two runs scoring on DuBois errors gave the Lady Wildcats a 8-2 lead, and run-scoring hits by Kaler and Johnna Garbrick one frame later boosted the lead to 11-6.
"Early in the season, we didn't capitalize when we got those runners in scoring position," Dave Peters said. "Today, we came right out and put pressure on them in the first inning. We didn't stop, either. We continued to score right from the first inning. We were aggressive on the bases. Sometimes, we made some plays, and other times, it just didn't fall our way. We played our style of game. If we can do that, we are happy and confident."
The defense was spectacular.
Strouse made several great grabs at second. Kayla Glossner was spotless at third, and Morgan Kunes didn't let anything by the first-base bag.
That's not counting the stops by Koch at short, and the Lady Wildcats picking two runners off first in the second.
"There were high expectations," said Kaler, a sophomore who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. "Maybe some people outside of our team didn't believe that we could do it, but our team did. A lot of the girls wanted it bad. And you need to have that instinct to win. It's so exciting and beyond thrilling to be in this position."
DuBois (10-9) scored three in the fifth, cutting the lead to 8-5 after five, but never got closer - leaving a total of 10 runners stranded on base.
"Central Mountain put the bat on the ball," Deemer said. "We knew they were going to do that because we've played them twice before. We had to try and limit them a little bit. We didn't have an opportunity to set up one of our plays, a four-outfielder play, against their No. 3 hitter (Strouse). She is a great hitter, and we had some tricks set up to prevent gap shots. But when you walk girls, you can't do that anymore."
Strouse had three hits to pace CM, while Kaler, Koch and Ciarra Peters each had two rips.
Whitney Peters picked up the victory, throwing four innings on a hot, humid day. She gave up four runs, all earned, on six hits. She struck out two and didn't issue a walk. Sophomore Rachael Shady threw three innings in relief, allowing two runs on four hits.
"We played a heck of a game defensively. And we took advantage of some base-running mistakes they made. We just capitalized," Dave Peters said.
Class AAAA Softball
Semifinals at DuBois
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN 11, DuBOIS 6
CM202 043 0 - 11 12 1
D100 131 0 - 6 10 4
CM: Whitney Peters, Rachael Shady (5) and Paige Dickey. D: Samantha Kirk, Rachael Henry (5) and Samantha Snyder. WP - Peters. LP - Kirk. 3B: CM, Jessica Strouse. D, Casey Wilcox, Reagan Hanna. 2B: CM, Jordan Kaler 2, Strouse, Brittany Koch. MH: CM, Strouse 3, Kaler 2, Koch 2, Ciarra Peters 2. D, Hanna 3, Cheyenne McKee 2, Sierra McKee 2. Records: CM 10-11, D 10-9.