By Tom Fox
It's been quite an interesting week in the world of District 6 softball and baseball.
One of the most impressive softball streaks has ended. Traveling AA softball has been like traveling down an interstate filled with potholes and construction. And the defending Class AA baseball champ has looked like just that: The champ.
One of the biggest surprises came early in the playoffs as Bellefonte's multi-year run as district softball champ came to an end in a 7-1 defeat at Greater Johnstown Area. The Lady Raiders were looking for their ninth consecutive district crown in 2008.
"They beat us 1-0 last year, and I knew it was going to be a tough game. You could tell that our girls wanted this one bad," Johnstown coach Randy Romesburg said.
It was a game that had been postponed for several days because of heavy rain and sometimes hail. But when it started, it was all Lady Trojans and the big hit came from the bat of catcher Katelin Lindrose, who smacked a double to the wall, scoring two in the sixth.
According to Bellefonte coach Gregg Kohlhepp, the streak was downplayed throughout the season.
"For an hour and a half, it just wasn't our day," Kohlhepp said. "But I still think that their legacy is intact. They are a fantastic senior class. They have been wonderful in pulling things together, trying to get this team in the right direction."
In AA softball, Bald Eagle Area and Penns Valley have emerged as the top two teams and will meet for the championship on Wednesday. While Penns Valley's road has been a tad easier, BEA had to get through the defending state Class AA champ, Philipsburg-Osceola.
In the semifinal that needed extra innings, Meghan Granite pushed the winning run across the dish with a single in the eighth that set off celebration in Milesburg.
During the regular season, the two rivals split their two games, with each winning at their own home field.
"It's just incredible how a rivalry starts," BEA coach Dave Breon said. "It means a lot to me that these kids never gave up; that they kept working in the off-season. They have a mission this year and it's not done yet. I'm just ecstatic for my kids."
It's the end of a wonderful career for P-O pitcher Brittany Murphy, who struck out eight and ended her career with a 14-3 postseason record.
"It was a well-played game on both sides and, unfortunately, we came out on the short end," P-O coach Jim Gonder said.
"It was a typical Brittany game where she threw a great one. We knew that to get through District 6 was going to be a real challenge. I firmly believe that whoever gets through District 6 is going to represent us very well in the playoffs."
Baseball: It's a Championship Week of Sorts
In AAAA, Central Mountain and Hollidaysburg will meet up in the nightcap of a championship day at the Blair County Ballpark, Altoona, on Wednesday.
In the opening game, it's a shocking matchup between lower seeds Bellefonte and Somerset in AAA. Both schools upset the top seeds; Bellefonte edging out No. 1 Indian Valley and Somerset winning a slugfest over No. 2 Lewistown.
In AA, reigning state champion Bald Eagle Area is ripping though foes and will face off with No. 2 seed Bishop McCort.
It's been a similar trip for the Eagles to 2007: identical scores in the first two rounds. But coach Jimmy Gardner is hoping for a different result in the championship game, one in which the Eagles lost to Philipsburg-Osceola last season.
Regardless, both advance to states because District VI places two in the bracket.
"The kids have really been looking forward to this," Gardner said. "The last couple of practices, we have had an extra skip in our step and a little more pop in everything they were doing. This is what we work for all year. Now, we are here."
District 4 Playoffs: Brackets Hold True to Form
In District 4, the seeds have pretty much played out as expected.
In AAAA baseball, top seeds Wyoming Valley West and Williamsport will meet Wednesday at PNC Park, Scranton. WVW dispatched No. 4 seed Abington Heights in the semifinals, while Wásport beat No. 7 Scranton and No. 6 Hazleton.
In AAA, it's a rematch between top seeds Jersey Shore and Montoursville, who tied for the Susquehanna Valley League championship. The Bulldogs drilled Mifflinburg and Athens, while Montour defeated Midd-West and Shikellamy.
In AA, three of the top four seeds remain alive as the semifinals continue. South Williamsport will tangle with No. 5 Towanda, while No. 2 Bloomsburg and No. 3 Loyalsock will advance into title game, to be held at Historic Bowman Field, Williamsport, later in the week.
In softball, playoffs are entering into the semifinal rounds.
In AAA, Milton is the clear-cut favorite and will meet up with Shikellamy, while Jersey Shore and Midd-West is the other semi.
In AA, undefeated Loyalsock and reigning district champ Mifflinburg remain on pace to meet in the finals.
Canton, Montgomery, Millville and Northeast Bradford are the four semifinalists in Class A.
All semis and finals will be held at Elm Park, Williamsport.
Tom Fox is sports editor at The Lock Haven (Pa.) Express and also covers Central and Eastern Pennsylvania for MaxPreps. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org