District 3 Class A?softball

HALIFAX – In softball, a dominating pitching performance usually leads to a win.

So you can imagine the surprise Upper Dauphin’s Amber Bingaman must have felt when she looked at the scorebook after Thursday’s District 3 Class A softball semifinal game against Greenwood.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats, who came into the game with a sub-.500 record and didn’t record a single strikeout in the contest, had a dozen batters leave the plate empty thanks to Bingaman’s work.

But it wasn’t enough. A couple of timely hits by Greenwood and a few more errors than Upper Dauphin would like to have committed in the field added up to a 4-2 win by the Wildcats, who will play in the District 3 championship game for the fifth-straight year.

The Trojans, at times, played a lackluster game, but Greenwood coach Troy Gantt wasn’t ceding anything to the team that won the Tri-Valley League.

“I thought it was two good teams playing,” he said. “I thought we had yet maybe before today to play a complete game together. If we do that, we can be competitive with anyone.”

The tone was set early. In the top of the first, Greenwood played advantageous ball to take an early lead. Brittany Fleisher got aboard on a dropped third strike, and the throw to first went high, giving her a second base on what could have been an out. Brooke Louden, who picked up the win in the circle, plated her on a ground ball.

In the bottom of the frame, Bingaman, also her team’s leadoff hitter, belted a rocket to left-center field that put her on third base. She stayed there until her team took the field.

“We were very opportunistic today,” Gantt said. “We took advantage of the opportunities we had.”

In the second, Upper Dauphin had another opportunity when Chastity Campbell reached on Greenwood’s only error, then worked her way to third. And stayed there.

“That’s big. You steal a little momentum,” Gantt said. “The defense did a good job executing.”

What would be the winning run crossed the plate in the third. Katie Osborne led the order with a single, advanced on an error – the Trojans committed five – and scored on a wild pitch. That same pitch stationed Amy Heggenstaller, who had reached on an error, at third, and she made it home on a passed ball.

The miscues piled up again an inning later as the Wildcats staked a 4-0 lead when Rebecca Stalvey benefited from a two-bag mistake, then scored when Campbell misplayed an Osborne fly to left.

Gantt credited the runners – who knew when to hold and when to take off – with creating runs and keeping the pressure on the Trojan defense.

“I thought our base running was phenomenal,” he said. “Sometimes that’s the difference in a game like this.”

But this was Upper Dauphin, and the Trojans are the team that dominated Class A in the district before moving up to Class AA for two cycles. And there were three innings left.

Greenwood’s history is not a good one with the Trojans – one win in seven previous meetings coming in.

“Not this season. Not last season,” Gantt admitted. “They have a good lineup top to bottom and there’s always that chance. But I thought the girls did a good job looking calm, cool and collected out there.

“I know they did a better job than I did.”

Upper Dauphin scored one in the fifth when Louden’s only walk came back around. And Bingaman was back on third in the sixth when the defense preserved Louden’s winning effort. Campbell scored in the seventh, the result of a triple to lead off the inning, but a pair of routine infield plays ended the game.

“We got the momentum early and sometimes it’s just tough to get things rolling,” Gantt explained.

Greenwood (7-11) advances to the title game against Millersburg, which will be played Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.