Marion Center crossed off one of many season-long goals on Wednesday. Now the Stingers will set their sights on retribution to claim another.
Hailey McCunn and Morgan Straw each had three hits with a home run, Jasmine Hill allowed just a pair of singles after the third inning and Marion Center rallied from a three-run deficit to clinch the North Division title with a 12-4 Heritage Conference softball victory over visiting Northern Cambria.
The Stingers, who wrap up their regular-season schedule at Blairsville on Monday, improved to 17-1 overall and 12-1, with their lone loss coming against South champion Ligonier Valley.
“We set our goals at the beginning of the season, and this was definitely one of them,” Marion Center coach Ed Peterson said. “We’ve had a lot of close games. And they didn’t get down. They just responded. There’s no quit in these girls. They do what they have to do to get on top.”
Marion Center will take on Ligonier Valley (15-2), which is unbeaten in conference play, in the Heritage Conference championship game at a date and location yet to be determined. The Rams topped the Stingers, 12-2, in their lone regular-season meeting on April 23.
Northern Cambria dropped to 11-6 overall and 7-5 in conference play.
On Wednesday, Marion Center fell into a 3-1 deficit in the top of the third inning before knotting the game at 4-all with three runs in the bottom half and taking its first lead, 8-4, in a four-run fourth.
The Stingers finished 16-for-33 at the plate.
Straw went 3-for-3 with a team-high four RBIs, and McCunn finished 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and scored four runs. Mia Urbani tacked on three hits, Laney Monroe had two hits with a double and three RBIs, Kass Roush singled twice, Torri Ashbaugh doubled and drove in two runs, and Erika Niel had a double.
For Northern Cambria, Nicole Bearer, Camryn Dumm and Brooke Lieb each slugged home runs. Sydney Sheredy added a pair of hits.
Jasmine Hill struck out four in the complete-game win.
WEST SHAMOKIN 17, UNITED 0: West Shamokin slugged eight extra-base hits and Kaely Klonowski fired a three-hitter in a complete-game effort as the Wolves beat host United in a Heritage Conference game that was shortened to five innings.
Riley Prugh had a double and a triple among her three hits and drove in three runs for the Wolves. Haleigh Newell went 3-for-4 with a triple, Lexie Young doubled twice and drove in three runs, Klonowski had a double and a single, and Kara Marshall and Sierra Patterson each doubled. Abby Oesterling added two hits.
Klonowski struck out nine and issued one walk.
West Shamokin (8-4, 8-1 conference) visits Purchase Line.
LATROBE 5, LIGONIER VALLEY 4: Ligonier Valley fell into a 5-0 deficit through five innings before its rally was cut just short as the Rams took a non-conference loss on the road for just their second defeat of the season.
Jane Garver slugged a home run and had two RBIs to pace Ligonier Valley.
Maddie Griffin was charged with one run and struck out five in 3 2-3 innings of relief.
Ligonier Valley (15-2) travels to Heritage Conference foe Homer-Center today.
LIGONIER VALLEY 8, HOMER-CENTER 7: Homer-Center came within one out of claiming an upset victory over visiting Ligonier Valley, but Tyler Anderson spoiled the Wildcats’ hopes with a bases-clearing double to lift the Rams to a Heritage Conference victory.
The Wildcats led 7-5 entering the seventh inning. Ligonier Valley struck out on the leadoff at-bat before putting two runners on base with back-to-back singles. And after a pop out, a third base hit put three runners on to bring up Anderson, who sent his lone hit to center field to give the Rams the lead.
The game was tied at 5-all before Homer-Center plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Nick Beitel added a pair of hits and two RBIs for Ligonier Valley, and Clark Harr and Michael Marinchak added a pair of singles apiece.
For Homer-Center, Jayke Saiani went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Jonathan Gearhart went 3-for-3, Evann Keslar and Canyon Rankin each had two hits and drove in two runs, and Nate Davis and Tyler Federinko had a pair of hits apiece.
Jonathan Beard earned the win with four strikeouts over 4 1-3 innings of relief.
Ligonier Valley improved to 13-2 overall and 10-1 in conference play. Homer-Center dropped to 14-5 and 9-5.
UNITED 15, PENNS MANOR 5: United broke open a close game with an eight-run sixth inning, knocking off visiting Penns Manor in a Heritage Conference game that was shortened due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The game was knotted at 5-all through five innings before United took a two-run, 7-5 lead with a pair of runs in the fifth.
Wade Plowman paced the Lions with a pair of hits and three RBIs. Camden Jamison drove in three runs, Mason Muir doubled and had two RBIs, and Ben Tomb and Dawson Brendlinger had two hits apiece.
For Penns Manor, Tommy Hamilton went 3-for-3, Austin Hill had two hits and drove in two runs, and Trent Mason doubled.
Josh Hamilton earned the win with four strikeouts over five innings, and Brendlinger closed with an inning of relief.
United (8-8, 7-6) plays host to Saltsburg today. Penns Manor plays host to Blacklick Valley in a non-conference game Monday.
WEST BRANCH 5, NORTHERN CAMBRIA 4: Northern Cambria couldn’t maintain a late lead as West Branch loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seven inning before plating a pair of runs to deal the visiting Colts a non-conference loss.
Northern Cambria held a 4-2 advantage through five innings and West Branch cut the deficit to one, 4-3, in the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, a single and a walk put two runners on base, and following a groundout, a second walk put the winning run on second. The Colts walked in the tying run on the next at-bat and West Branch followed with a game-ending RBI single.
Richie Wiewiora led Northern Cambria with three hits. Mike Hoover had a single and a double, and Logan Onskt doubled.
Northern Cambria (8-8, 6-6) visits Marion Center today.
DERRY 6, INDIANA 1: Indiana committed a trio of errors in a non-section loss to visiting Derry despite allowing just three hits.
Zach Tortorella stroked a double for the Indians.
Alec Petroff took the loss, and Antonio Caporossi struck out three in 3 2-3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.