SWIFTWATER - For six full innings, Pleasant Valley made all of the right pitches and made most of the correct plays.
It wasn't until the seventh and final inning that things started to go against the Lady Bears and snowballed into a potential disaster.
Fortunately for Pleasant Valley, it was able to see its way out of a full-blown jam and walk away as Mountain Valley Conference champions.
Up 5-1 heading into the top of the seventh, Pleasant Valley allowed Stroudsburg to load the bases with one out. The Mounties then scored three runs on a hit and two errors to make things extremely interesting. However, with the tying run just 60 feet away, Bears' starter Rikki Correll hunkered down and induced a pop-up to first and a groundball back to the circle to end the game.
It is Pleasant Valley's third consecutive MVC championship, as well as its ninth in ten years.
"The heart was beating pretty quickly," said Pleasant Valley manager Steve Caffrey. "All I could do was ask Rikki to throw like she could and for us to play defense like we were capable of. She got us out of it and we made the plays to end the game.
"The only thing I was thinking about was last year's Stroudsburg and Pleasant Valley baseball game in the final inning. I thought, 'Here it comes. It is our turn now.' Rikki bore down for the last two batters and threw her pitches."
Correll was on her game early and allowed just one run on five hits through the first six innings if play. She started 18 of the first 20 batters she faced with first-pitch strikes and worked from ahead the majority of the game. She fielded her position very well to boot, as she stabbed a groundball and threw the runner out at first five different times throughout the day.
Correll dodged some trouble in the second by getting Stroudsburg's Steph Wagner to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. She then gave up consecutive singles to start the sixth, but got out of it with only one run against thanks to a sacrifice fly sandwiched by two ground outs.
Just when the Bears needed three lowly outs to win the game, things started to unravel. After the first Stroudsburg batter grounded out to second, the next four singled in succession to score two runs (one on a throwing error). Following a hit-batsmen to reload the bases, another infield error allowed the Mounties to score again and make it a one-run game.
With the MVC title slowly slipping through the Bears' fingertips, Correll persevered and got the next two Mounties out to end the game. It is the third year in a row that Correll was the winning pitcher of the championship game.
"I don't even remember what happened," said Correll on the seventh inning. "I just know that we walked away with the win. I knew I had to take a breath and have trust in my team and have trust in myself.
"It feels great to win this. I couldn't ask for anything else. I couldn't ask for a better team. We played our hearts out today and we proved that we know how to win."
Pleasant Valley jumped out early and took a 4-0 lead after one. Correll (2-for-3) helped her own cause with a RBI triple three batters into the game. Katie Lenart singled in Correll before Tracey Deubler knocked in two more on a double. Corell picked up another RBI an inning later on a single. Jordan Meckes led the team with three hits.
The Bears (15-7) will likely be the top seed in the District 11 AAAA playoffs next week since Bethlehem Catholic (AAA) won the Lehigh Valley title. For now, Caffrey and his girls just want to enjoy their newly acquired hardware.
"This feels great to be honest with you," said Caffrey. "It's three in a row and we have been through some tough things this year. We started out 0-4 and didn't know where we were going to be. When we got to league play we started to pick it up. The girls settled down with some position changed and it all worked out in the end."
Stroudsburg 000 001 3 - 4 9 1
Pleasant Vy. 410 000 x - 5 9 3
M. Liedberg and Kern; Correll and Caffrey. W - Correll. L - M. Liedberg.