STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Much like the teams' meeting in the District 1 final, errors played a huge factor in Friday's PIAA Class AAAA softball championship game between Pennsbury and Hatboro-Horsham.
The Hatters again benefited the most. This time, they turned three sixth-inning fielding miscues into as many runs and eked out a 4-3 victory at Penn State University's new Beard Field.
The deciding run came with two outs in the sixth. Melissa Spinosa raced home after catcher D'anna Devine's misfired pickoff throw to third baseman Christina Bascara.
Afterward, Pennsbury's veteran coach, Frank McSherry, said he called for Devine to make the risky throw. "I made a bad call and gave them that last run," he said. "That's my fault."
Hatboro-Horsham (26-2), with only two hits, rallied from a 3-1 deficit to capture its first state title since 2008. As was the case in the district final, the Falcons (23-4) were hurt by five errors.
"We don't come out and smash the ball all over the place," Hatters first-year coach Joe DiFilippo said. "That's the way we won all year. That's the game we play. We play fundamental softball - and it works."
Hatters catcher Julie Wambold was a designated hitter, positioned at the No. 6 spot in the order, for the squad when it claimed its first crown.
"Words really can't describe this," the Syracuse-bound senior said. "I'm letting it all sink in right now. I think we really deserved it."
Afterward, Wambold sympathized with Devine's anguish over the late throwing error. "She's a very close friend of mine," Wambold said. "We play on the same travel team [Newtown Rock Gold]."
Maggie Shaffer, a junior righthander, yielded seven hits in a complete-game victory. "I think I pitched pretty well," she said. "I got better toward the end."
In the visiting fifth, thanks to one of Hatboro's two errors, the Falcons moved in front, 2-1. Michelle George tripled to right field and scurried home when Heather Lutz's throw in skipped past third baseman Chrissy James.
Pennsbury, seeking its first state title since 2007 and sixth overall, made it 3-1 in the sixth. Kelsi Bunda scored from second base when shortstop Val Sadowl lost Savanna Grantham's high pop in the sun and the ball dropped untouched in short left.
In the bottom of the frame, with one out, the door for the Hatters' comeback was opened when, with out, leftfielder George and centerfielder Bunda collided on Lutz's fly to left-center and the ball dropped in.
"There was a lack of communication there," McSherry said. "They both wanted the ball. You'd rather see that than the ball just fall between them."
Jackie DiPietro followed with a left-side bunt single; Spinosa's bunt toward first base was mishandled, allowing Lutz to score; and James, on a 1-2 count, knocked in DiPietro with a suicide squeeze toward first to make it 3-3.
Pennsbury 0100110 - 375
Hatboro-Horsham 100003x - 422
WP: Maggie Shaffer. LP: Val Buehler. 2B: P-Christina Bascara, Savanna Grantham; HH-Heather Lutz. 3B: P-Michelle George.
Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or email@example.com.