Elizabeth Forward rolls into state championship game with shutout win

Monday, June 10, 2024 | 7:02 PM

Elizabeth Forward has dominated its opposition throughout the season, and Archbishop Wood became the latest team to feel its wrath during an 8-0 victory in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals Monday.

The Warriors (23-1) haven’t lost against a Class 4A opponent this season, blowing through the best in the WPIAL en route to beating the best in the state. The Vikings (13-10) managed to beat two district champions to set up Monday’s semifinal clash in Chambersburg, but they were simply outmatched.

Now, Elizabeth Forward will return to Nittany Lion Softball Park for the first time since 2019 with only Blue Mountain in their way of claiming a state championship.

“We’re off to Penn State,” EF coach Harry Rutherford said. “It’s great to be going back. We have a better outcome coming this time though. Last time there, we had a 3-2 loss (to West Perry), but I’m really confident about this team.”

His squad has given him plenty of reason for confidence all year, and that continued Monday.

In the circle, Elizabeth Forward ace Shelby Telegdy surpassed the 500 career strikeout mark by fanning nine batters. She gave up just four hits and issued one walk in the complete-game victory.

“It feels really good, especially since we’re going to Penn State,” the Seton Hill softball commit said. “It felt really good.”

Every Warrior but one contributed to a 14-hit performance as Julia Johnson led the way with three base knocks. Julia Resnik, Berlyn Holibaugh, Hannah Evans and Telegdy each chipped in two hits while the trio of Resnik, Holibaugh and Johnson posted two RBIs each.

For Archbishop Wood, an impressive state playoff run came to an end with the loss. After grabbing the third and final state playoff berth from District 12, the Vikings were the only team from their region to win a game.

Pitcher Jackie Cobb took the loss as she gave up 14 hits and eight earned runs in six innings. She finished with one strikeout and no walks.

Offensively, Allie Higdon, Maddison Conlon, Julia Yogis and Elise Cawley were the only Vikings to record a hit.

After a four-pitch walk to open the game, Telegdy struck out two batters and forced a groundout to quickly move things onto the bottom of the first. As the Warriors got their first look at Cobb, Resnik led things off with a single to center before Telegdy took just one pitch to single to left.

After Carlee Soukup was hit by a pitch, Addy Nigut stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out. She flew out to left center, giving Resnik more than enough time to tag up and open the scoring in favor of Elizabeth Forward.

Holibaugh was next up, and she helped two runs score with her baserunning.

She grounded into a fielder’s choice as shortstop Cawley opted to go home to try and get courtesy runner Samantha Malek out, but Malek beat the tag to score a second run. Then, catcher Conlon spotted Holibaugh racing to second, and while they got her for the second out of the inning, her move allowed Soukup to round third and make the score 3-0 in favor of EF.

Conlon got the first hit of the game for the Vikings with one out in the second, but Telegdy managed another strikeout and a groundout to strand her at first.

Aubri Cimba opened the home half of the second with a double before Hannah Evans was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Cobb righted the ship after that, forcing a fielder’s choice to third, a pop out and a strikeout to keep the score at 3-0.

The Vikings threatened to open their account in the third, but two runners were stranded after two groundouts ended the top of the frame.

Elizabeth Forward took advantage of their baserunners, however, plating four more runs in the third.

Nigut was hit by a pitch before Holibaugh laid down a soft bunt for a single. A wild pitch moved them over to second and third with no outs during Johnson’s at-bat, and she singled to left field to score Nigut.

Alivia Grimm then crushed a ground ball right into the glove of third baseman Allison Siegfried, and another run scored when she threw over to first.

With the score now 5-0 and Johnson at second, Evans made an important play on what looked to be an inning-ending groundout.

Her hustle allowed her to beat the throw to first and keep the inning alive with leadoff hitter Resnik back at the plate. Resnik responded with a two-run double that smacked off the fence at center to close the third inning at 7-0.

The action slowed down in the fourth and fifth as both squads were unable to score, but the Warriors added to their advantage in the sixth.

Soukup led the home half off with a single before Holibaugh also singled to put runners on first and second. With one down, Johnson stepped up and posted another RBI on a single to make it 8-0.

That ended the scoring as the Vikings went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to conclude the contest.

Win or lose, Elizabeth Forward will take the field one more time at 1:30 p.m. Friday. They’ll be looking to complete their quest for another championship this season.

“This is a solid team,” Rutherford said. “If one person has a bad day, there’s eight others picking them up. None of them have (played at Penn State), so it’s going to be a great thing for them. It’ll be a big thrill for them, but it will be for us (coaches), too.”

“We just have to keep hitting the ball hard,” Telegdy said, “Our defense has been great, so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”


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