Elwood City’s softball team has been a dominant force over WPIAL opponents in recent years, as it carried a carried a 37-game winning streak against such foes into Wednesday’s Class 3A championship game. That dominance continued as the Wolverines scored a convincing 10-0 victory in five innings against Deer Lakes at California University’s Lilley Field.
To get that win, the Wolverines (18-0) had to be extremely patient. A rain delay of about 90 minutes during the Class 6A game caused the 3A title tilt to start a little more than 2 1/2 hours after originally scheduled.
No problem for the Wolverines who spent much of the rain delay on the team bus. Pitcher Skyla Greco calmed a slight case of the nerves by taking a nap. Other team members, such as Ariana Garroway passed the time dancing and watching a movie.
Whatever the Wolverines did, it worked.
Garroway started the game with a double. The sophomore stole third and scored on a ground out by Zoe Kalantzis.
The remainder of the Wolverines’ runs came in the third and fourth innings.
They broke open the game in the third with five runs. The big blow came on what looked to be an innocent grounder to shortstop with two outs and the bases loaded and Ellwood City leading 3-0. But Breonna Streit’s grounder took a bad hop on Deer Lakes shortstop Dani Huffman and rolled into the outfield, scoring each of the three base runners.
Huffman returned to the lineup after leaving the semifinal win over South Park when she was spiked in the leg, an injury that resulted in five stitches for the junior.
Four more runs scored in the fourth. The big hit in the frame was a two-run triple by Reagan Mittler.
With a 10-run lead, all that was left for Ellwood City was to keep Deer Lakes off the scoreboard for two more innings to seal the victory two innings early.
That task was easy for pitcher Skylar Greco, who was dominant in five innings of work.
The Seton Hill recruit struck out nine, to bring her season total to 146, She walked one and allowed a double in the fourth inning to Huffman. The final out of the game was one of the nine strike outs, many of which were punctuated with raw emotion from Greco.
As for the offensive attack of the Wolverines, seven of the nine starters got at least one hit.
Garroway and Anna Ferucci each had two. Mittler and Streit each had three RBIs. Ferruccci and Garroway each scored two runs.
Ellwood City players admitted that it was going to be a night to celebrate, but they were ready to focus on the PIAA playoffs, where they haven’t had much success.
Deer Lakes (15-2) and South Park will be the other WPIAL representatives in the PIAA tournament.