Greenwood’s season ends with 4-3 loss to Millersburg

HALIFAX – Amy Heggenstaller hit an RBI grounder in the top of the seventh, keeping Greenwood alive in a District 3 Class A softball semifinal against Millersburg Thursday.

But she could only watch helplessly as the Indians’ Taryn Herb sent a run-producing ball of her own into the field in the bottom of the seventh, advancing Millersburg to the title game with a 4-3 victory.

The loss for Greenwood ends a run of five straight district titles.

The situation was one Greenwood knew was coming; the Wildcats also knew if they got past Herb at the plate – she was the big hitter for Millersburg – then they would be in position to try and win the game.

“It was tough. We knew we had the top of the order coming up there after we tied it up,” Greenwood coach Troy Gantt said. “That’s exactly what they want out of that part of the order.”

The win was set up by a left-field single by Mariah Armor, who stole second to set up the opportunity for Herb. Herb, who was on base four times – three outfield hits and a walk – went to center to plate Armor, a walk-off RBI single.

Maddy Pyle forced the second half of the seventh when she started the top half with a base hit, then advanced on a Nikki Willi grounder. She made it to third on a passed ball; Heggenstaller’s hit back to the pitcher was good to knot the score.

“We’ve been talking to them about not quitting, getting better as the season went on. I thought that was probably the best game we’ve played of the season and it was the time to play it,” Gantt said. “Nothing to hang heads about – that was well played by both sides I thought.”

Greenwood had a chance to score in the opening frame when Kelsey Keener reached on an error to start the game, then Willi – after a conference of the umpires – was awarded first when she was hit by a pitch. Heggenstaller singled, but an offensive interference call took Willi out and sent Keener back to second; no one made it back to the dish.

In the bottom, Millersburg scored twice, one on a more controversial interference call against Willi, whom the home plate umpire said was blocking the base path illegally. The Indians added one more when Kelsey Snyder singled and came home on a Cheyan Lebo grounder.

There were a total of three discussions over interference in that first inning – Millersburg asked for a ruling on one of its base runners, and lost the decision – along with the human review that led to Willi getting a base when a pitch caromed off her elbow.

“Everybody was a little bit wound tight and things kind of settled down there as the game worked itself through,” Gantt said. “Both teams settled down a bit, too – coaching staffs included.”

Greenwood’s turn came in the third. Batting from the top of the order, Keener, Pyle, Willi and Heggenstaller each had base hits, the latter scoring a run. After two strikeouts, Kenzie McCoy delivered the fifth hit of the inning – also an RBI effort – but the Millersburg defense stopped it there.

Greenwood loaded the bags again in the fourth when Millersburg pitcher Marlo Roadcap walked two to start the frame and Pyle had her second hit of the contest. The next play was an odd shallow fly by Willi that was caught at short – outside the infield – and the fielders collided. No one advanced.

Gantt said it was the right decision.

“You’ve got your No. 4 batter coming to the plate with one out and the bases loaded,” he said. “You don’t send the runner at that point to get thrown out by a shortstop that’s got a good arm.”

But instead of another hit, Heggenstaller hit a ground ball to Roadcap, who made the force play at home to stop the run – and Herb, the catcher, got the ball to first for the double play.

McCoy helped set up the dramatic finish with an unassisted double play in the sixth. A reach on a dropped third strike made it more nerve-racking for the defending champs, but they got out of that jam cleanly.

Greenwood ends the campaign at 6-13. Millersburg will face Halifax, which upset No. 1 Upper Dauphin in the all-Tri-Valley League tournament.