‘Last lap’ focuses Frazier for PIAA Class 2A softball championship
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 | 11:18 PM
Before every practice this season, the Frazier softball team takes a lap around Commodore Park.
As they circle the field, they touch the banners on the outfield fence.
On Wednesday morning as they prepared for the Class 2A state championship game, the Commodores made their run for the last time this year.
“We touch the banners to honor all of those that have been there before us,” Commodores coach Don Hartman said. “(Wednesday) was it. Our last practice of the year. I think that’s when it hit them.
“The seniors kind of took the lead on that last lap. It was something special to watch.”
The Commodores (20-4) will face Brandywine Heights (17-9) for the PIAA title at 4 p.m., Thursday at Beard Field at Nittany Lion Softball Park on the campus of Penn State in the final game of the 2019 season.
“They got a little teary-eyed there, but after that, we were grinding,” Hartman said. “I mean, for us right now it’s like, ‘Bring it on. Bring on the next team. We’re ready.’ It’s been stressful and the anxiety level is high. It makes it a little difficult to just enjoy the ride as people say, but hey, what’s one more day. We’re ready for this thing,” Hartman said.
The Commodores advanced after a thrilling walk-off win over Cranberry in the semifinals at Slippery Rock.
Logan Hartman scored the winning run from second base after an error on Cranberry’s third baseman.
“I swear I almost beat her to the plate,” Hartman said of the play. “That play could have been a tag third, go to first double play, but I think the girl just took her eye off the ball for a split second. Then I started waving my arm until in nearly fell off and started running to the plate.”
While the adrenaline rush has subsided, Hartman was busy breaking down game film of Brandywine Heights’ 12-10 win over Susquenita. Brandywine was the runner-up in District 3 heading into the postseason.
“They’re a storied program. This is their sixth appearance in the state title game, I think the last was in 2013,” Hartman said. “Obviously, they’re a solid team to be here.”
Coached by Don Roach, the Bullets are almost a mirror image of the Commodores.
“Their coach actually reminds me of me,” Hartman said. “He’s a small-ball guy. If there are runners in scoring position and it’s time to bunt, they’re going to bunt. If it’s time to hit and run, that’s what they’re going to do. They’re very well-coached.”
The Bullets, who’ve won six of their last seven, are led by shortstop Haley Hertzog. She had three hits and three RBIs in the semifinal win over Susquenita. In that game, the Bullets had 15 hits as a team.
Brandywine is led in the circle by Jess Davidheiser.
“She’s a good pitcher, I think she tops out around 60 mph. I really think the teams we have played along our path here have really prepared us for this game,” Hartman added.
Quality opponents are something easy to find around the Mon Valley and the surrounding region. Tough competition is something Hartman and his Commodores don’t shy away from.
“It really makes you a seasoned team. We’ve played Mt. Pleasant twice this year. We played West Greene, Laurel and Elizabeth Forward last year,” the longtime coach said. “We haven’t run into anything on this road that we haven’t seen yet.”
On thing Hartman isn’t worried about is his team being in awe of their surroundings heading into Nittany Lion Softball Park.
“We played our first-round game there last year. We lost that game, but we’re not going into the unknown now,” he said.
“It kind of reminds me of the movie ‘Hoosiers’ when they go into the arena and they measure the basket and it’s still 10 feet high. They measure the foul line and it’s still 15 feet.
“When we take the field, the bases are still going to be 60 feet and the mound is going to be 43 feet.”
With it being the last day of the season, all Hartman wants to see him do is play ball and have fun.
“Look, I never thought we’d be at this point with such a young team,” he said. “What’s one more day? They showed me in practice they’re ready for this moment. I’m so proud of them, but we have one more game now. This is it.
“Ultimately, it comes down to us. We can’t boot the ball around like we’ve been prone to do, but we’ve been better the last few games. Logan has to have a good outing and we’re going to be aggressive and do what we do. We’re going to be us. That’s all I want us to be.”
More High School Softball• Senior spotlight: West Allegheny catcher misses camaraderie on softball diamond
• Pine-Richland softball focused on adding punch at the plate
• Local ballplayers trying to stay sharp during coronavirus’ spring shutdown
• Yough softball returns 7 starters, expects championship-caliber season
• With youth and experience, Valley softball is looking to break its playoff hiatus