Chartiers-Houston playoff run ended by District 6 champ Claysburg-Kimmel

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Thursday, June 8, 2023 | 8:43 PM


Since claiming its only state championship in softball in 2010, Chartiers-Houston has been close to winning another one several times. The Buccaneers made a run to the semifinals in 2017 and to the quarterfinals in 2019.

And they advanced that far again this season.

But it ended there for the Bucs on Thursday at Hempfield with a 5-1 loss to District 6 champion Claysburg-Kimmel in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals.

Four errors contributed to Charters-Houston’s woes and the Bucs’ offense sputtered against Claysburg-Kimmel junior Emalee Cavender, who at one point retired 17 consecutive batters.

“She did a great job of mixing speeds and keeping us off balance,” Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson said. “We hit a lot of nubbers, a lot of ground balls, and their infield played well. We made some mistakes and when they had runners on base, they made us pay for that.”

Cavender retired 17 in a row after a leadoff single by Chartiers-Houston’s Ella Richey, and Claysburg-Kimmel (22-3) scored four runs with two outs in the fourth inning as the Bulldogs earned back-to-back trips to the semifinals.

They’ll face WPIAL champion Union on Monday at a site and time to be announced, hoping again to make their second appearance in a championship game.

“Last year’s team was a totally different team and I thought, ‘Here we go rebuilding again,’” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Mike Barbarini said. “But we’ve got talent on top of talent, and they progressed through the year like I’d hoped they would. Now we’re coming to where everybody’s performing at a high level.”

Claysburg-Kimmel reached the 2022 semifinals in Class 2A, losing to District 12 champion Conwell-Egan. The Bulldogs returned just two seniors this year but find themselves still in the running for their first state title, this time in Class A.

They had little trouble dispatching Chartiers-Houston (15-7), whose only run came on Richey’s solo home run in the sixth, the Buccaneers’ first baserunner since Richey’s first-inning single.

After Cavender stranded Richey at first in the top of the first, Claysburg-Kimmel took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half.

Cavender led off with a single and eventually scored against Chartiers-Houston sophomore Meadow Ferri, who finished with seven strikeouts and two walks but was victimized by four Buccaneers errors, including two in the first that allowed Cavender to come home.

“I thought our pitcher (Ferri) pitched a good game,” Alderson said. “We were thinking we were going to be in a low-scoring game, which if we make a few more plays, we are. That’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel all year, our defense. But we needed to get a few more baserunners as well. We struck out looking a lot, which was not good. But they’re young.”

Chartiers-Houston next season will return all but one player.

Ferri, one of four sophomores on the team, retired the first two Claysburg-Kimmel batters in the fourth before the Bulldogs erupted for four runs to take a 5-0 lead. Zakera Bush’s two-run double highlighted the inning that also saw a run score when Cavender wound up on third base after her fly ball was misplayed in left field for a three-base error.

It was the second Chartiers-Houston miscue of the inning.

“That’s always big in a game to be able to score runs with two outs,” Barbarini said.

Jaylee Swindell also doubled during the rally and Launa Musselman drove in a run with a single for Claysburg-Kimmel.

“They did exactly what we practiced all week. They laid off Ferri’s high fastball,” Barbarini said. “They made her come down in the zone so we could hit it. We got timely hits from the bottom part of the lineup, which has been coming through all year for us.”

All four Claysburg-Kimmel runs in the fourth were scored by the sixth through ninth batters in the lineup.

Cavender, the Bulldogs’ leadoff hitter, produced two of Claysburg-Kimmel’s six hits off Ferri.

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