Ariana Butler and baserunning send Villa Maria past Gwynedd Mercy – PA Prep Live

GWYNEDD VALLEY >> Villa Maria Academy worked on its basic operation and it finally paid off.

The third-seeded Hurricanes scored two first-inning runs in the first and third situations and added another run set up by a stolen base in the third inning of their 1-4A district semifinal against No. 2 Gwynedd Mercy Academy on Tuesday afternoon.

Villa Maria pitcher Ariana Butler dominated in the circle and the support early in the run proved enough for a 3-2 win at Gwynedd Mercy Academy.

Villa Maria Academy’s Ariana Butler, right, and Anna Stroup celebrate after the final of a District 1-4A semi-final victory over Gwynedd Mercy Academy on Tuesday. (Ed Morlock – MediaNews Group)

Ella McHugh led the start of the first inning with a walk, moved up to second on a grounder at third and moved to third on a groundout at second. GMA intentionally walked Natalie Bacallao, for the first of three times, to put riders in the corners. Bacallao stole second place and got caught in a rundown. McHugh scored and Bacallao found himself safe at second base.

Bacallao moved up to third on wild terrain while Alex Kilpatrick worked a walk. When Kilpatrick stole second, the pitch went to third base, hitting Bacallao’s helmet and allowing him to score to make it a 2-0 game.

“We have worked on our basic running,” Villa coach Nicole Hartshorn said. “We worked on the basic paths. We worked on traffic patterns. I will tell you today that everything fell into place. I’m so glad we worked on those little things. We worked on a first and a third situation when there are two withdrawals because so many people rejected it. The more we see this happening, the more we say to ourselves, “OK, let’s enjoy it. » »

McHugh reached on an error to open the third inning and stole second base. She scored on a Grace Wisler out single to put the Hurricanes up 3-0.

Villa Maria Academy’s Ella McHugh heads home in the top of the third set against Gwynedd Mercy Academy on Tuesday. (Ed Morlock – MediaNews Group)

That was all Villa needed with Butler in the circle. The sophomore right-hander pitched all seven innings, striking out nine batters on one walk and allowing two runs – one earned – on six hits.

“She’s at her gym six days a week,” Hartshorn said of Butler. “She did this. I started coaching with her when she was in seventh grade… Watching her blossom and grow into this solid athlete – she’ll be one to watch for the next two years.

Butler started the game with three scoreless innings before GMA’s Maddie Seidel hit a one-out triple late in the fourth. She scored on a Jenna Morrison single to make it 3-1. With Morrison and Lexi Weiss at second and third with one out, Butler recorded consecutive strikeouts to block the tying run in scoring position.

She did it again in fifth grade. GMA’s Abby Howard and Bria Mahoney hit back-to-back singles and placed second and third on wild pitch. Bacallao caught a bunt from third base for the second out before Wisler caught an early foul for the endgame to end the threat.

“I just keep my cool all the time,” Butler said of his clutch success, “because I know if I let my emotions get too high, I might slip up. I make sure just to be relaxed and perform as I know I can.

GMA added a second run in the sixth when Weiss reached on an error, stole second and scored when Kiersten Dunlap hit on an error, but Butler responded with one strikeout and one out on second for, again once, leave the equal run on the base.

“We had things that didn’t go our way,” Hartshorn said, “and that’s when you really know if you have a champion team or not. When they can come back from that and not letting things slide like that. I’m very proud of them because they had a lot of things that went wrong…in a crucial moment and didn’t kill us. That’s usually what kills people who are not ready for championships.

Butler did it herself in the bottom of the seventh. She threw a batting bunting before closing the game with two strikeouts to start the Hurricanes celebration.

Villa Maria Academy’s Ariana Butler celebrates after the District 1-4A Semi-Finals final against Gwynedd Mercy Academy on Tuesday. (Ed Morlock – MediaNews Group)

Butler also hit a big milestone in the game. In the third inning, she recorded her second strikeout of the game and 100th of the season.

Seidel started for the Monarchs and pitched all seven innings. She struck out nine batters on six walks — three of which were intentional. She allowed three runs on five hits.

Seidel also came out of some tough jams to keep GMA in the game. She failed runners at first and second in the fourth, left bases loaded in the fifth and ejected two runners at third in the seventh.

Gwynedd Mercy Academy’s Maddie Seidel warms up before the first leg of a District 1-4A semi-final against Villa Maria Academy on Tuesday. (Ed Morlock – MediaNews Group)

The Hurricanes will face the winner of No. 1 Villa Joseph Marie and No. 4 Lower Moreland for the championship Thursday at 4 p.m.

Gwynedd’s season ended with an 11-8 record.

Villa Maria Academy 3, Gwynedd Mercy Academy 2

Villa Maria Academy 201,000 0 – 3

Mercy Academy Gwynedd 000 101 0 – 2

WP: Ariana Butler 7 IP 9 K 1 BB 6 H 2 R

LP: Maddie Seidel 7 IP 9 K 6 BB 5 H 3 R

2B: VMAs: Ariana Butler, Grace Wisler.

3B: GMA: Maddie Seidel.