ALLENTOWN —One out away from elimination on Tuesday, Holy Redeemer fought back. Then two outs away, the Royals did it again.
The third time certainly wasn’t the charm as Brandywine Heights held on — finally — to defeat Redeemer 5-4 in 10 innings in the PIAA Class 2A softball semifinals at Patriots Park.
District 3 champ Brandywine Heights (26-2) goes on to the title game on Friday versus District 7 champ Riverside (22-0). D2 champion Holy Redeemer ended its season at 18-1.
“We exceeded our expectations to the fullest,” said Redeemer first baseman Kasey Miller, one of four senior starters. “We took all the doubters and made them realize we were a team.”
Redeemer rallied twice — in the bottoms of the seventh and eighth innings — to keep the game moving. Chelsea Skrepenak snaked a two-out single to right in the seventh inning. She scored all the way from first when Jen Ringsdorf followed with a single to right. Kaya Swanek blasted a one-out homer to dead center in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score 4-4.
After a scoreless ninth, the international tiebreaker rule was instituted in the top of the 10th. Taylor Brintzenhoff, who made the last out of the ninth, started the inning on second base for Brandywine Heights. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single to right field for a 5-4 lead.
Redeemer seemed to have everything in place to force yet another inning. The Royals started with Skrepenak, their fastest runner, on second base. But after an out, Kotch hit a sinking liner to center. Center fielder Jenny Seabourne caught the ball and also caught Skrepenak, who slipped trying to get back to second, off the base for a game-ending double play.
“We’re aggressive,” Redeemer coach Mark Senchak said, “and sometimes aggressiveness bites us.”
The Royals did everything possible to take a bite out of Brandywine Heights’ prominence. The Bullets came into the game with four state titles since 2005. Redeemer was making its first appearance in states.
“We went out as hard as we possibly could have,” said Kotch, Redeemer’s senior shortstop. “I couldn’t ask anything more from this season.”
Brandywine Heights scored two unearned runs in the top of the first. Sam Sweigart opened the game with a single to left and later scored on a fielding error. Amanda Hess added an RBI single with two outs.
In the bottom of the inning, Kotch reached on a walk with two outs. Alexis Shemanski followed with a ground single to left. Swanek then singled to left, but Kotch was thrown out at the plate on a close call.
The Royals scored twice in the third as Julie Kosik lined a double down the left-field line and scored when Skrepenak followed with a triple to the left-center gap. She scored on Kotch’s single.
Redeemer had second and third with one out in the fifth, but failed to score. Brandywine Heights had second and third with no one out in the sixth, yet couldn’t get a run across.
“When you get to these games, every inning is tough,” Senchak said. “I’m so proud of these girls. They fought right to the end. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of girls and the fight and the grit they had all season.”