Lady Bulldogs fall to Panama, 4-0

Photo by Mark Anderson Brocton pitcher Megan Gloss delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s Section VI, Class D softball semifinal game against the Panama Lady Panthers, in Panama.

PANAMA — When Ashlyn Harvey is striking out double-digit batters, Panama is a very good team.

On Wednesday, the Panthers defense was called upon to back Harvey.

The combination still proved to be a recipe for success.

Harvey threw a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and faced just two batters over the minimum while Panama’s defense turned in a flawless effort with no errors on 12 chances in the field as the top-seeded Panthers beat No. 4 Brocton, 4-0, in a Section VI Class D semifinal at Deb Palmer Field.

The win sends head coach Tammy Hosier’s squad to Monday’s 6 p.m. sectional final at St. Bonaventure University’s Joyce Field against No. 3 North Collins, which beat No. 2 Forestville, 11-0, in Wednesday’s other semifinal.

“They are just playing as a team and they are all together,” Hosier said. “They are positive and picking each other up. After that team camaraderie, everything else comes. From our seventh-graders all the way up to our seniors, that’s key.”

Panama wasted no time taking the lead over the Bulldogs as Marra Hovey was hit by a pitch to open the bottom of the first inning and Abi Lisciandro followed with a sacrifice bunt that was mishandled, leaving runners at first and second with no outs. Bulldogs starter Megan Gloss nearly got out of the inning unscathed with a strikeout and a fly out, but Panthers’ No. 5 hitter Natalie Angeletti hit a drive to left field that was dropped for a two-base error that plated the first two runs of the game.

“Natalie has really come on with her hitting,” Hosier said. ” … It’s very frustrating when you have those good, solid hits and you don’t get runs. You have to keep plugging away.”

Harvey used a line-drive double play to get out of the first inning and settled in from there, striking out five of the next nine Brocton batters.

“Ashlyn is probably the best pitcher we’ve faced all year. Not only does she the speed, she has her offspeed and she has some spin as well,” Brocton coach Julie Arnold said. ” … She fields her position very well. She’s a very effective pitcher.”

The Bulldogs nearly got on the board in the top of the fifth inning as Juli Smith and Makenna Honey opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Annalise Wdowiasz then hit a hard ground ball that turned into a double play when shortstop Maci Johnson stepped on second base and was then interfered with by Honey, who didn’t slide. The rule states that on an interference call, the runner closest to home is called out, erasing Smith who would’ve scored after Johnson’s throw got away from the Panthers’ first baseman.

“Considering what happened, it’s hard to bounce back. I think the girls showed some composure,” Arnold said. ” … It kind of took the wind out of our sails, obviously, but that didn’t stop us from fighting the whole time.”

Harvey got out of the inning with her sixth strikeout of the game and Panama added two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. Lisciandro was hit by a pitch with one out and then advanced all the way to third on Johnson’s sacrifice bunt for the second out.

“Abi is just a phenomenal base runner. I teach them, when there’s a bunt you are rounding second and you are heading toward third unless I tell you to stop,” Hosier said. “Nobody was there at third. … because I didn’t have to tell Abi to come, she was there.”

Harvey then fell into an 0-2 hole before hitting a line-drive triple into the left-center field gap that turned into two runs when the throw from Brocton’s cutoff went out of play.

The four runs were plenty for Harvey and second baseman Ava Morton to put the game away. A comebacker and a pop-up to Harvey, a strikeout and three ground balls to Morton spelled the final six outs of the season for the Bulldogs.

“We’ve been gelling as a team and that stuff has all been coming. At the start of the season we were struggling, there’s no getting around it,” Hosier said. ” … My right fielder is new, my second baseman is new, my left fielder is new. Abi is playing third, but she’s never played third before. … They’ve worked hard. The defense was great.”

Gloss pitched well in defeat, throwing a two-hitter with two strikeouts while hitting three batters and walking two.

“Megan and Jenelle (Grigelevich) have good chemistry as batterymates,” Arnold said. “Defensively, I think we backed Megan up pretty well today. Megan seemed to be in charge of her pitches and kept her composure regardless of some of the circumstances throughout the game.”

The Panthers will now have to deal with a North Collins team that went just 10-10 during the regular season, but last year advanced all the way to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals before losing 5-0 to Section IV Deposit.

“We made some great contact, but credit to Panama because they made some great defensive plays,” Arnold said. “They are a solid team. I wish them nothing but the best moving forward.”

NOTES: Smith had two hits while Cheyanna Rivera and Honey each had one for Brocton. … Jessica Mistretta’s second-inning single was Panama’s only hit other than Harvey’s triple.