South Williamsport wins Eastern title; advances to LL Softball World Series
BRISTOL – All tournament long, South Williamsport manager Cory Goodman’s team has used a bit of everything to get the job done during an impressive four-game stretch. A lightning-quick rally. A critical manager’s challenge. A power-packed laser show with hard-hit balls smoked to the Breen Field fences.
And finally, Thursday, July 25, a little bit of everything in a 3-2 victory over Connecticut that sends South Williamsport to the Little League Softball World Series.
“The first day (of the regional) we got to watch all the teams, other than Delaware, and I knew Connecticut wasn’t the same team we played the other night,” said Goodman, whose team defeated Connecticut, 10-0, Tuesday. “We just came out firing and I think they got on their heels a little bit. I knew this was gonna be a close game.”
South Williamsport rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the first inning to take a 2-1 lead by utilizing two walks and a Connecticut error to tie the score, and Gianna Goodman planted a go-ahead RBI single on a softly hit pop fly to right field. After Connecticut tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth inning, Schuler stepped up to the plate to lead off the fifth and had to combat a Connecticut strategy that had worked all game to that point.
In the two teams’ first matchup, South Williamsport dominated in a five-inning mercy-rule victory led by Schuler’s three triples. In the rematch, however, Connecticut manager Scott Worzel had his outfielders playing much deeper, and he had his left fielder tugging the foul line.
The decision had paid off, notably during Sage Lorson’s first two at-bats, when she rocked a pair of fly outs into the waiting glove of Connecticut’s center fielder. “Sage smoked a couple that would be doubles if they didn’t play so far back, but they had her played perfectly,” Cory Goodman said. “(Their strategy) helped us a little bit, though.” On Schuler’s fourth pitch of her at-bat, she hammered a line drive to the left-center gap, dunking it in front of left fielder Grace Hess, who was unable to get to the ball in time from her original defensive positioning. Schuler aggressively took second base for a double, and moments later, Lorson powered a sacrifice fly to left field for a run that proved to be the go-ahead score. “I thought in the fifth inning, when we had the top of the order up, that was our opportunity to do some damage,” Goodman said. “Thankfully we got one across, which was obviously the game winner. I figured we’d put something across the board.” The combination of small ball and a bit of power was capped by another strong outing from starter Schuler, who was backed by a key defensive play late.
In the bottom of the sixth, Connecticut’s Madyson Bull took a pitch off her right arm to lead off the inning. Two pitches later, Talia Salanto smoked a line drive right into the glove of second baseman Gianna Goodman, who instantly corralled the ball and flipped a quick throw to first baseman Abby Lorson for a double play. “I got really excited because I knew we just needed one more out, and I knew we could do it,” Goodman said.
Moments later, Schuler completed her fourth complete game of the tournament for South Williamsport (4-0) with a three-pitch strikeout to shut down Connecticut (3-2) and its final comeback bid. The final strike, the attempt at a celebratory water bucket pour on its head coach and the ensuing victory lap around could not have felt sweeter for the Pennsylvania state champions.
Now, Sage Lorson and any of her fellow first-time flyers on the team will have to face the fears of their first plane trip. But it’s a nervousness Lorson, Lynna Clark and their teammates will happily take on because they’re headed to Portland, Ore., for the final week of the season, Aug. 7-14. “We won,” said Cory Goodman. “Now we can book the flights.”
South Williamsport 020 010 – 3 4 2; Connecticut 100 100 – 2 4 2
Alizabeth?Schuler and?Lily Reidy. Judy Tarczali and (n/a). WSchuler.?LTarczali.
Top?South?Williamsport hitters:?Alizabeth?Schuler 1-3, 2B, run; Gianna Goodman 1-3, RBI; Abby Lorson 1-3; Lily Reidy 1-3; Lynna Clark, run; Lacey Kriebel, run. Top Connecticut hitters:?Madyson Bull 1-2, run; Talia Salanto 1-3; Mya Dawid 1-2, run; Teagan Mulvihill 1-1.