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Vikings attack early, defeat Trojans

Gardner, Arnold each drive in a run

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Mount Union’s shortstop Morgan Brumbaugh catches the ball to force out Williams Valley’s Tori Raback. The Williams Valley’s runner was ruled safe in a controversial call.

BELLEFONTE — Throughout its magical season, Mount Union’s high-powered offense and its ability to jump on opposing teams early carried it to the second District 6 title in school history and a PIAA quarterfinal appearance.

On Thursday afternoon the Trojans couldn’t find their footing, as a big first inning by Williams Valley powered the Vikings to a 7-2 victory in the PIAA Class 2A softball quarterfinals at the Milesburg Little League Complex.

Mount Union (19-4) fell behind early as Karrigan Woodward had an uncharacteristic day in the circle as a tight zone led to multiple Vikings runs in the early innings. Woodward, a pitcher who usually uses pinpoint location and her defense to excel, was hampered by an especially tight strike zone.

Woodward felt the squeeze early and often, as the pitcher who only walked 21 batters in 17 games this season walked a staggering nine Williams Valley (21-4) hitters.

“You have calls go for you and calls go against you, but the home plate umpire’s strike zone today was unfair,” Mount Union coach Matt Fiscus said. “The zone was just so tight that we had walks that we don’t usually have. When you have to throw down the middle, they are going to get hits. I don’t complain about umpires very often, but it was blatant today that he was just insane with the strike zone and made us walk people.

“I can go out on a loss, but when the game is taken from you — I think sometimes in our society when someone loses, they complain about the officiating — that’s not me,” Fiscus added. “I don’t do that, you have to take the good with the bad, but today was just not fair and (the home plate umpire) shouldn’t have been in this ball game.”

The Vikings scored two runs in the first inning with a pair of bases-loaded walks leading to runs. Williams Valley poured it on in the second inning, as an RBI double to left-center by Alex Bogle, a two-run single to right by Emma Crisswell and an RBI single to right by Tori Rabuck made it 6-0 after two frames.

A back-breaking blow came in the fifth when Mount Union center fielder Kadyn Crisswell fired a ball into second base for the final out of the inning on a force play, but the second base umpire ruled that the runner was there ahead of the throw when she appeared to be out by a considerable distance.

The second chance for the Vikings immediately led to an insurance run as an RBI single by Gracie Ruch pushed the lead to 7-1.

Mount Union tried to bounce back, but a six-run cushion was more than enough for the Vikings, who won the Class A state championship in 2019. The Trojans were the first team to score on the Vikings throughout the District 11 tournament and the PIAA tournament, as Williams Valley had outscored its opponents 55-0 entering the contest.

The Trojans pushed across a run in the fourth on an RBI double to left by Kaitlin Arnold and an RBI groundout by Kendra Gardner in the sixth kept the deficit at five runs.

“You have to hit in the clutch,” Fiscus said. “They had a good pitcher and you’re not going to face bad pitchers this time of year. It’s going to be tough to score a bunch of runs to get back into it. Once you do that to someone and you’re afraid to go away from the middle of the strike zone to avoid walking people — the umpire just didn’t do a good job today.”

Despite everything, Fiscus was pleased with the way his team attempted to rally and stay in the game. Woodward pitched well outside of the first two innings, limiting Williams Valley to one run in the final five innings, while retiring eight batters in a row at one point. Kadyn Crisswell and Arnold each had multiple hits for the Trojans.

“If they would’ve given up, I would’ve been surprised,” Fiscus said. “Mount Union people don’t give up. If I thought they did, there would be other people on the field. That’s just how they’re brought up and how they play and I’m proud of that. We take that for granted here that we are going to play until the end, and we did, but the game was over in the third after what they did to us.”

The Trojans’ senior class of Woodward, Crisswell, Arnold, Kayshawna Spriggs and Morgan Brumbaugh put forth one of the best seasons in school history and the group helped contribute to both of the school’s District 6 titles in the past four seasons.

Despite the loss, the season will be one that will be remembered for the team’s magical run to the District 6 championship and the way the team battled back to upend Penns Valley in a wild extra-inning clash.

“This senior class, some of that were a part of two District 6 titles and we only have two district titles at our school total in girls’ sports, so they have done things that no other team has done and probably will ever do, which is something to be real proud of,” Fiscus said.

Williams Valley 7, Mount Union 2

WV 240 010 0 — 7 9 1

MU 000 101 0 — 2 7 1

WP: Emma Crisswell. LP: Karrigan Woodward. SO: Crisswell 6 (WV); Woodward 5 (MU). BB: Woodward 9 (MU); Crisswell 3 (WV). 2B: Abby Cole, Alex Bogle (WV); Morgan Brumbaugh, Kaitlin Arnold (MU). MH: Bogle 2-3, Crisswell 2-4 (WV); Kadyn Crisswell 2-4, Arnold 2-4 (MU). RBI: Crisswell 2,Bogle, Tori Rabuck, Lanie Shoop, Jade Groff, Gracie Ruch (WV); Arnold, Kendra Gardner (MU).

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