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SV softball rolls past Pennsbury, into state final

Seneca Valley’s softball team celebrates its 9-0 win over Pennsbury in the state semifinals Monday. Submitted by Dawn Walter
Secret no more

FAYETTEVILLE, Franklin County – The cat’s out of the bag.

Seneca Valley’s softball team is bound for the state title game and, odds are, they won’t be taken lightly. Not after upending Pennsbury, 9-0, in their PIAA Class 6A semifinal matchup Monday afternoon at Norlo Park.

“I think we’ve kind of been looked at as an underdog all season, and I think we were honestly looked (at) as an underdog here,” Seneca Valley coach Marlesse Hames said. “It’s not a secret anymore.”

The Raiders have now won 11 straight contests.

“I just think they came swinging the bats,” Pennsbury coach Frank McSherry said. “Their pitcher (Lexie Hames) did a great job against our kids … It was their day. That’s a good team.”

The Raiders have been as prolific as anyone at the dish, and during this playoff run have gotten contributions up and down the order.

“When I first took over the team, I knew what the talent was,” Coach Hames said. “I knew that we could go (to the) postseason. I just knew we had to come together as a team … That happened and we got people where they needed to be.”

The Raiders are a confident bunch after easily dispatching Pennsbury, 9-0, in Monday’s state semifinal. They will carry an 11-game winning streak into Friday’s state championship game at Penn State University. Submitted by Dawn Walter

One of those puzzle pieces is freshman Bella Gross, who’s made her mark during this playoff run. Against Pennsbury, she played on the corner opposite her older sister and first baseman, Maddie, and lifted a three-run shot over the left field fence to open a 5-0 lead in the visitors’ third.

“Her bat became hot, and I knew she could play anywhere on the field,” Hames said about Bella’s production surge. “She’s really helped us out, as we saw today.”

Maddie Gross had a would-be homer stolen to end the top of the opening frame, and SV left a runner on second their next go-round.

In the third inning, senior Angelina Chardella led off with a double and came around on a Pennsbury throwing error the next at-bat. Soon after, junior Mia Ryan drove in senior Hayley Walter, who reached on that miscue. Maddie Gross’ infield single set up her sibling’s homer.

The Falcons’ starting pitcher, Ainsley McClure, was chased after that frame.

Meanwhile, Lexie set down nine of Pennsbury’s first ten batters. In the home fourth, she struck out the side on 11 pitches.

“We knew we were gonna have to work harder, because their defense was working harder,” Lexie said. “We knew we had to match their energy and more.”

The pitcher Hames has proven to be as dependable as the sunrise in the circle. On the brightest stage she’s performed on to this point, she allowed the Falcons (24-3) only one hit, going the distance and earning her second-straight shutout.

“I know that I have a whole team that will back me up on the field, so I can feel comfortable throwing whatever, whenever,” Lexie said. “The whole lineup just hits the ball, and that helps me relax on the mound.”

The Raiders batted around in the fourth inning, plating four more runs – one of which came on an error and another on senior Ainsley McLane’s bases-loaded walk.

“We went in here feeling confident,” Maddie Gross said. “You have to be. The team came and they followed through.”

The offensive output and defense’s stinginess vaulted SV into a state championship meeting with the winner of a semifinal tilt between North Penn and Spring-Ford. That game will be played at Penn State University’s Beard Field on Friday at 4 p.m.

“We know we’re gonna have a tough battle, but we’re confident in our team right now,” said Lexie, who punched out 11 challengers in total. “We’re just gonna keep our energy up and our bats going.”

Seneca Valley 005 400 0 – 9 10 1

Pennsbury 000 000 0 – 0 1 3

W: Lexie Hames 7IP (11K, 1BB). L: Ainsley McClure (3K, 0BB)

Seneca Valley (18-6): Bella Gross HR 2B 3RBI, Maddie Gross 2-1B, Mia Ryan 2B 1B 2RBI

Pennsbury (24-3): Mahony 2B

Friday: Seneca Valley vs. North Penn/Spring-Ford, at Penn State University’s Beard Field, 4 p.m.