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STATE COLLEGE â€” Every thrilling, come-from-behind victory story has another tale on the other side â€”Â a tale of heart-breaking loss. And unfortunately for the Punxsy 11- and 12-year-old All-Star softball team, its run at a state title came to an end Thursday afternoon in State College in disappointing fashion.
Punxsy led fellow western foe Minersville 1-0 and was just one out away from a berth into the final four teams and the semi-finals, but a late rally by Minersville allowed it to tie the game, send it to extra innings and go on to win by a 4-2 final score.
Punxsy starter Alli Ishman, who stayed on in the third inning despite the fact it would have made her ineligible to pitch in Thursday's semis, was cruising on her way to a second Punxsy shutout in as many days, when Minersville put together a sixth-inning rally to tie the score at one.
Maddyson Melochick got things rolling for the visiting team with a leadoff single to right field before Ishman retired Emily Mealey, who had notched hits in her first two at-bats of the game, by forcing her to fly out to Morgan Adamson in right field.
With one out, a second Minersville hitter reached base, though, when an attempted fielder's choice was just late getting Mealey at second, and the visitors loaded the bases on a second straight infield single when second baseman Morgan VanLeer's valiant effort to snag it out of the air came up just short.
Ishman fanned Kate Kramer to bring Punxsy within one out of advancing, but a little bit of two-out magic off the bat of Emily Kriston tied it up for Minersville, as her sharp hit skipped past the shortstop and allowed Melochick to score.
As the home team, Punxsy had an opportunity to answer with a run in the home half of the sixth, but the home squad was set down in order on a pop up to the second baseman and a pair of Ks.
The seventh got off to a good start when Kate Horner tracked down the first hit to center for an F8 putout, but Minersville's bats began to come to life from that point forward.
Adrienne Kroznuskie got things rolling with a single to center, and after she advanced to second on a passed ball, Melochick kept up her strong day at the plate by doubling to left-center to bring Kroznuskie in.
Mealey added an important insurance run on a second-straight double to left-center field to plate Melochick â€”Â an important run, as it would prove to be the game-winner.
Minersville added a final run after special pinch runner Jade Herb advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a fielding blunder on an attempted bunt single.
Punxsy kept both teams' fans on the edges of their seats in the home half of the seventh, putting up one run and making things very interesting.
Ishman led it off with a single to right-center, and special pinch runner Kerstin Nestel entered the game.
Jordyn Powell singled sharply to right field, moving Nestel to second and putting a pair on, but a pair of strikeouts to Kate Horner and Adamson put Minersville within one out of its No. 2 seed-clinching victory.
Danielle Bowser came to the plate and hit a grounder to second, and when the throw to first got away, Bowser reached safely, and Nestel broke for home.
Nestel scored easily to make it 4-2 Punxsy, but after Minersville's throw to third skipped away too, Powell broke for home, as well.
The skip proved to not be long enough, though, as the ball beat Powell to the plate, and Punxsy's dream run came to a screeching halt.
After the teams went scoreless for the first two innings, Punxsy broke open the scoreless tie with a run in the bottom of the third.
Kylee Lingenfelter â€” who earned the start at third base â€”Â led off the third inning with a chop single to center, and a Winebark single moved her to second. VanLeer popped out to the catcher, who doubled Winebark off at first, but with two outs, Alli Lunger delivered with an RBI single to right.
The lead held for two-and-a-half innings before the visitors cracked their half of the scoreboard in the sixth.View more articles in: