Breegle’s clutch single lifts Ligonier Valley past Central in District 5/6 playoffs

Monday, May 20, 2019 | 8:53 PM

It took 10 innings for Ligonier Valley to pass its first test in the District 5/6 softball playoffs after it was looking like the Rams didn’t have a prayer.

Junior Myrna Breegle said a divine intervention Monday likely enabled No. 4 seed Ligonier Valley to come away with an improbable 9-8 victory over visiting No. 5 Central (Martinsburg) in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

The Rams rallied from deficits of 5-0 and 8-5 to force extra innings before Breegle singled to right-center field in the 10th — her third hit of the game — to drive home Abby Cmar, who began the inning on second base by way of the international tie-breaker rule, with the winning run.

“I was trying not to throw up because I was nervous,” Breegle said of the moments leading up to her winning hit. “Normally, my sister will pray for me, or I’ll pray while I’m in the box, or I’ll ask my teammates to pray for me when I’m batting. So, I put a lot of it on that.”

Something must have been working for Breegle. She also hit her first home run in the fifth inning and singled in the eighth, when Ligonier Valley (18-2) nearly scored after putting two runners on base.

“She’s just been coming on all year,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “Her defense is what’s been getting her on the field, but she’s starting to see the ball better (at the plate). She hit that homer hard and that game-winner hard.”

Ligonier Valley, the Heritage Conference champion with an unblemished mark, advances to the district semifinals Thursday at top-seeded Chestnut Ridge.

The victory avenged an 8-2 nonconference loss at Central on May 1.

“When you go to 10 innings in the playoffs, that’s a tough one to lose,” first-year Central coach Jonathan Burkett said. “The international tie-breaker rule. I knew it would come into effect sometime. We just couldn’t get a run in, and they came out on top. That’s the way it goes.”

Central (14-7) was the first to put a runner on second by way of the rule, but Ligonier Valley right-hander Jane Garver struck out the side, clenching her fists and letting out a shriek after getting the final punch out.

“I knew when we didn’t get that run in, we were in trouble,” Burkett said. “They are a good-bunting team.”

Ligonier Valley won it in the 10th as pinch-hitter Bella Schueltz reached on an error when her bunt down the third-base line was mishandled, advancing Cmar to third.

Breegle stepped up and lined righthander Dylan Claycomb’s pitch over the glove of second-baseman Shannon Detwiler to score Cmar with the deciding run.

“I never go in thinking about hitting a home run,” said Breegle, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup. “My job is to make contact, whether it’s a dinky one over third or a home run.”

Central touched Garver, a Robert Morris commit, for two runs in the second and three in the third — Cameryn Feathers’ two-run homer giving the Red Dragons their five-run advantage.

Cmar’s two-run double pulled Ligonier Valley within 5-2 in the fourth, and Breegle’s solo shot to center made it 5-3 in the fifth.

The Rams tied it in the sixth when Garver singled and Kaylee Colt doubled before both scored on an Detwiler’s fielding error.

Central took an 8-5 lead in the top of the seventh on two hits. The Red Dragons took advantage of four Ligonier Valley errors.

“That had me concerned,” Zimmerman said. “It wasn’t looking good.”

But the Rams rallied in the bottom of the inning with three runs to tie it again on an RBI double by Taylor Bojtos, a sacrifice fly by Colt and an RBI single by Cmar.

“That’s a whale of a ball club there,” Zimmerman said of Central. “You know when you play those guys, it’s going to be a tough out.”

That’s when you call on some divine intervention.


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