Jun. 4—WINDBER — To sustain championship-level success the way Meyersdale has the past seven seasons, it takes a few lucky breaks here and there.
None may be more consequential than the one the Red Raiders received in extra innings against Shade in the restart of the District 5 Class 1A softball championship game on Friday.
Amber Long's pop-up to shallow right field with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning caused a collision between Shade's outfielders, allowing base runner Izabella Donaldson to score the winning run from third as Meyersdale walked off with a 4-3 victory.
"We were fortunate. They (the Panthers) were playing a little bit deep and they had a long way to go," Meyersdale coach Tim Miller said of the final play. "That collision at the end, it was a fortuitous bounce our way. We'll take it."
The Red Raiders secured their second straight district title, both wins coming over the Panthers, and have now won six of the past seven championships they've been involved in.
Without a senior on its roster, maintaining the program's excellence is something the Meyersdale underclassmen have been committed to.
"They have goals set. A lot of the teams before them have gone their entire career with winning a district championship, multiple district championships," Miller said. "These girls are continuing that tradition."
Donaldson, who also hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, picked up the win in the circle, allowing three runs, all in the third inning, on four hits with nine strikeouts and four walks.
Inclement weather postponed the game that began on Thursday in Somerset before it was moved to Windber. The contest resumed with the Panthers in front 3-2 heading into the top of the fifth inning with the top of their order due up.
Shade's Cassidy Mauger, who had an RBI single and scored a run, began the fifth by getting hit by a pitch. Freshman Jaedyn Krupper singled to put two on with nobody out, but the Panthers failed to get a run across after the next three hitters went down in order.
After the Red Raiders were turned away in the top of the fifth, Shelby Hetz singled to lead off the sixth and later scored to tie the game at 3-all when Long smacked a triple that deflected off the glove of Shade left fielder Rylee Pongrac and into the left-field corner.
"It's really special to be a part of the game," said Long, who in her freshman season compiled 25 hits. "I had some balls that were hit to me while I was fielding and I also got to hit. I was just happy I got to be a part of the game."
A perfect relay home that went from Pongrac to third baseman Emily Rapsky to catcher Mauger, who tagged out Long despite getting hit and knocked down at home, kept the game tied.
Rapsky belted a two-RBI single back in the third inning to give Shade a 3-0 advantage.
The Panthers saw that lead fade away after committing five total errors, including the game-ending error on the pop up off the bat of Long.
Earlier in the final half- inning, Donaldson reached base and was awarded second on a throwing error.
"Defense wins games and they only had two earned runs," Shade coach Jason Baer said.
"We had two or three errors yesterday and two today. You gotta play defense."
Shade sophomore pitcher Tara Corradini allowed only two runs, one earned, in the first four innings before play was suspended. In all, she surrendered four runs, just two earned, on six hits to pair with five strikeouts with one walk.
"She (Corradini) pitched an outstanding game," Baer said.
"All three times she pitched against them (the Red Raiders), she held them in check. She pitched well enough to win."
Meyersdale will host District 6 No. 2 seed Glendale when the PIAA tournament opens Monday. Meanwhile, Shade visits District 7 champion Union.