UNIVERSITY PARK For inning after inning, Central Bucks Souths Haileigh Stocks and Bishop Shanahans Kate Poppe matched zeroes on the scoreboard and strikeouts in the scorebook.
And seven innings wasnt enough to separate the two Division I-bound pitchers in Fridays PIAA Class AAAA softball championship.
Finally, Stocks did some damage with her bat and raced home on teammate Halle Bilkers two-out single in the top of the ninth as CB South edged Bishop Shanahan 1-0 in nine innings at Nittany Lion Softball Park.
The lone run put an end to a brilliant display of District 1 pitchers Stocks, who is headed to Robert Morris, and Poppe, who will pitch at Villanova. Poppe didnt allow a hit and Stocks gave up just one through the first six innings.
Stocks finished with a four-hitter, with five walks and 12 strikeouts, while Poppe tossed a three-hitter, with two walks and 17 strikeouts.
I dont know how it could get any better, CB South coach Dan Hayes said of the pitching matchup. They were both strong and both were tough and very gutty.
I knew it was definitely going to be a one-run game, said Stocks. We were both pitching well and only a couple of runners got to third base the whole game. I had to stay focused, hit my spots and not let up on anything.
Both pitchers showed their grit in the seventh inning. Lauren Klepchicks double, CB Souths first hit of the game, put runners at second and third with no outs, but Poppe got a foul pop and two strikeouts to get out of the jam.
Bishop Shanahan got its two leadoff runners on in the bottom of the seventh and had baserunners at second and third with two outs, but Stocks got a strikeout to end the threat. She also stranded runners at second and third in the eighth.
It was crazy, Stocks said of the momentum swings. Their fans were wild and it seemed like everything was going their way and then we would come right back and it would be totally opposite. It felt like every inning the momentum was switching.
Stocks led off the top of the ninth with a bullet double into the left-center field gap. After a failed bunt and a strikeout, she was still standing at second when Bilker strode to the plate. Bilker fought off a couple of two-strike pitches before grounding a ball up the middle that just ticked off the edge of the glove of diving Bishop Shanahan shortstop Alyssa Lewis. Stocks easily steamed around to score to give the Lady Titans the lead.
Im used to battling up there and getting a hit, said Bilker, who had an 11-game hit streak during the season. I was hoping it would go through.
It was nerve-racking, Hayes said of the contest. I didnt know how we were going to get to (Poppe).
She was pretty dominant. With something like that, you hang in there and hopefully somebody can square up on one and thats what Haileigh did. The other Halle put the ball in ball play and it happened to be in the right spot.
Bishop Shanahan coach Ron Savastio passed credit to the Lady Titans, but said the loss stung.
They deserve it, Savastio said. They beat the best as far as Im concerned.
I cant stand losing something like this, he added. I told the girls yesterday that we didnt accomplish a thing if we didnt raise that trophy. Thats the way I feel. We might have done a lot of things, but the big thing we didnt do. This is what you play for all year.
CB South knows that sting, too, having lost 1-0 to Mount Lebanon in the 2010 final. The state crown is the first in any sport in the seven-year existence of the school.
Its huge, said Stocks of Fridays triumph. Its our first win in our school for anything. Its exciting, especially for us eight seniors. It was a good way to end our year.
Walt Moody can be reached at 231-4630. Follow him on Twitter @wmoodycdt