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Fillies fall in 1A final

ORWIGSBURG - Marian didn’t win a District 11 softball championship on Tuesday evening, but it did gain something - a ton of respect.

The Fillies also discovered something else - they are getting closer to playing with the upper echelon teams.

Tri-Valley, with all its firepower, didn’t get rolling until midway through the Class 1A title contest. But when it did, it pulled away from Marian for a 7-0 victory to claim gold for the third straight season.

In the past, the Fillies haven’t been able to match up with teams the caliber of the Bulldogs, but in softball the result usually hinges on one position - pitching.

Marian’s Morgan Kelly can hang with the best, and showed that throughout the season. Early against Tri-Valley, she battled pitch-for-pitch with one of the Schuylkill League’s best in Emma Maurer - who was nearly perfect against the Fillies.

During the regular season, the Bulldogs downed Joe DeAngelo’s club by a 15-0 score. In that contest, though, neither team faced each other’s best hurler.

“We wanted her (Kelly) pitching today,” said DeAngelo, who kept Kelly out of the circle when they met on April 19.

DeAngelo was sly not showing his ace in the previous outing, but Tri-Valley head coach Marty Shade is wise to that strategy.

“Teams do that,” said Shade. “It was two really good pitchers, and the score doesn’t resemble it, but we took advantage of a couple of their mistakes.”

Maurer also didn’t participate in that first meeting, as she suffered an injury during warm-ups and was scratched. This time, she was in the circle, pounding the zone with a great riser, a spinning drop and a curve ball.

Maurer looked dominant, working through the Fillies lineup.

She retired the first 14 Marian batters in order before Danica Karlick singled down the right field line with two outs in the fifth inning. Moments later, Anna Grabosky hustled to first for another hit.

The score at the time was just 3-0, and the game was still in the balance, as the tying run was coming to the plate.

Maurer, however, relieved any tension the Bulldogs and their fans may have had by getting out of the frame.

Earlier in the game, the winning pitcher helped her own cause - and also lit a fire under her team. Maurer smacked a solo homer to dead center field in the fourth to extend Tri-Valley’s lead to 2-0.

“That really got us going, it got everybody excited,” said Shade.

Following the long ball, doubles by both Libby McGrath and Gianna Poletti - who is headed to Auburn University - upped the advantage to 3-0.

Kelly, who gave up an RBI hit to Grace Header in the first inning, maintained her composure during other Bulldog threats. She kept Tri-Valley (20-2) off the board in the second when it got its leadoff batter on, and in the third when it put two runners on base thanks to a Header single and a walk. A strikeout got Kelly out of that jam.

“We wanted to represent ourselves well,” said DeAngelo. “(Kelly) was going to have her pitches. I figured if we caught the ball, we would hang around.

“We did, and a few times we didn’t, and they capitalized on it.”

The time they didn’t contributed to a four-run fifth inning that put the Fillies (16-7) behind the eight ball for good. Tri-Valley batted around, taking advantage of two errors and four hits to slam the door on Marian.

With one out, a three-base error started the uprising. Mia Artz then hit a soft roller in front of the plate that Kelly fielded. She faked a throw and nearly had the runner on third leaning too far, but while this was happening Artz raced to second.

A sacrifice fly made it 4-0, while Poletti’s three-run double to the gap in left later in the inning pushed the margin to 7-0.

That was more than enough runs for Maurer, despite allowing a leadoff double to left by Katie Barron in the sixth. Maurer picked up two more of her 12 strikeouts, and the Fillies never threatened again.

“They’re seasoned, they’re an excellent club … they’ve been on (a) roll now for the (last) three seasons,” said DeAngelo of the Bulldogs. “I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t say how proud I have been of my girls.”

BY THE NUMBERS … Tri-Valley managed four extra-base hits in the contest - Maurer’s home run, Poletti’s two doubles, and a McGrath double.

IN THE CIRCLE … Maurer threw 84 pitches in seven innings, 63 for strikes. Kelly finished with 116, including 79 in the zone.

BIDING ADIEU … DeAngelo praised his three outgoing seniors. “Newcomer Jackie Ebert joined the club this season, while Jackie Guth and Alise Heisey were great contributions to the club this season.”

QUOTEABLE … “We wanted to take a step forward this year; make the league playoffs, get to the district finals, and I think we accomplished all of those well,” said DeAngelo.

Marian 000 000 0 - 0 3 2

Tri-Valley 100 240 x - 7 8 0

Kelly and Grabosky; Maurer and Rice. W - Maurer. L - Kelly. HR: Tri-Valley - Maurer (4th, none on).

Marian's Jackie Guth takes a throw at second while Tri Valley's Alexandra Snyder slides into the base. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Marian's Katie Barron shouts to her teammates after hitting a double. Looking on is Tri-Valley's Maddie Schwalm. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS