LORETTO -What a difference 24 hours makes.
When Central Mountain and Canon-McMillan started their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal on Thursday, it looked like it was going to be a lopsided affair.
Then Mother Nature came in and delayed the game - heading into the fourth inning - with Canon-Mac holding a strong 6-1 lead.
Central Mountain’s Jessica Strouse makes the out at first base against Canon-Mac Friday afternoon at St.?Francis University. For more photos, see cu.lockhaven.com.
"It isn't an easy scenario," Central Mountain coach Dave Peters said. "Particularly when you know you are coming in down five runs. You are starting out in a hole, with a limited number of innings to battle back. To the girls' credit, they battled today. We hit the ball better today, but Canon-McMillan made some nice plays when they had to."
When the game resumed yesterday, Central Mountain looked like a team composed and ready to take the fight to the Lady Big Macs.
Central Mountain's Ciarra Peters had the opportunity to get the Lady Wildcats restarted on the a great note.
With two outs and runners on first and second, she flared a possible momentum-swinging dagger into the empty void just over Canon-McMillan's shortstop, Veronica Rothka.
Rothka went back to field the blop, and she lost her footing on a wet field at St. Francis University.
As the ball started to drop, the Lady Big Mac stuck her glove up and grab it - good enough for the final out of the fourth inning and stopped Central Mountain's potential rally.
"She is sitting on the ground and catches the ball," coach Peters said. "We have been through those tough scenarios all season. Recently, we have been the team making those plays. That is the game of softball. Some times the breaks go you way and some times they don't. It would have been great to see that ball drop. We could have put some runs on the board early today, put the pressure on them and get the momentum. If we could have gotten the momentum, it would have been nice to see what we could have done from there."
It was ultimately the first day of action that sunk the Lady Wildcats as Canon-Mac jumped out to quick, 4-0 lead in the first inning.
The Lady Big Macs scored four on just two hits in the first frame - a double by Maddie Engel and a single by Giorgiana Zeremenko.
The next two Canon-Mac runs came in the third as Olivia Lorusso smacked a two-run home run over Johnna Garbrick's head and the fence.
The Lady Wildcats struck in the bottom of the third, when Moriah Lindsey and Morgan Kunes smacked back-to-back singles - with Kunes' single scoring Lindsey and cutting the deficit to 6-1.
That would be all the action for Thursday as the skies over St. Francis University never cleared up.
"I wish we would have played the whole thing Thursday," Canon-Mac coach Michele Moeller said. "We had the momentum strongly on our side. Our graduation ceremony was that night, so I think that really played on our girls' mind some. They wanted to stay and play, but it is graduation. They wanted to get back for it."
As action picked up on Friday, so did the Lady Wildcats' spirits.
Rachael Shady worked her way out of a fourth-inning jam - stranding two Canon-McMillan runners in scoring position.
Shady worked her way through 4 1-3 innings in total - giving up three hits and striking out three batters.
"She did a great job for us," coach Peters said. "She battled. They (Canon-Mac) got a double from the opening batter and Rachael battled. She hit her spots well, had some good velocity and did a lot of things well. For a sophomore with two more years to go, I am proud of how much she has grown this season. I look forward to seeing her for the next few seasons."
While it took some time for the Central Mountain offense to figure out Canon-Mac ace Alayna Astuto, they never could get past her solid defense.
Any ball the Lady Wildcats smacked, a Lady Big Mac seemed to eat up the field and retrieve it.
For the game, Astuto threw a complete-game six hitter, sitting down nine Lady Wildcats on strikes, while issuing one walk.
The Lady Wildcats once again threatened in the sixth. After an inning-opening walk to freshman standout Jessica Strouse, Astuto and the Canon-Mac defense buckled down, forcing two fielder's choice outs and a fly ball to end the inning.
"I think it was nice to finish and get the win," Moeller said. "We got into a few tight spots today and the girls managed to get themselves out of it nicely. It is always tough. I don't want to do it that way again, but as long as we keep winning, it is alright. Overall, I am happy because we are leaving with a win against a tough Central Mountain team."
Canon-McMillan will face Bishop Shanahan on Monday.
For Central Mountain, the junior-dominated team will look to build upon this year's success.
"With only two seniors (on the team), we have a good core coming back," coach Peters said. "It speaks highly about where we can be. We move to a new league next year and that will hold some new adventures. All-in-all, we have high expectation. We don't want this to be a one-year thing. We want this to be the consistency of the Lady Wildcat program."
PIAA Class AAAA State quarterfinal
CENTRAL MOUNTAIN 1
CA 402 000 0 - 6 6 1
CE 001 000 0 - 1 6 0
CA: Alayna Astuto and Giorgiana Zeremenko. CE: Whitney Peters, Rachael Shady (3) and Paige Dickey. WP - Astuto. LP - W. Peters. HR: CA Olivia Lorusso. 2B: CA Maddie Engel, Tara Fowler. MH: CA Zeremenko.