Bulldogs beat Wms. Valley; own D-II edge
Published: May 9, 2013
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HEGINS - All Taylor Troutman does is win.
Schuylkill League champion in volleyball. State champion in basketball. Division II leader in softball.
On Senior Day - and on the day the basketball team was honored by political leaders in Harrisburg for their PIAA Class A title - Troutman stepped up with one of her best softball games of the season.
The veteran outfielder hit all Monday afternoon and delivered the game-changing triple that powered the Dawgs to a 3-0 victory over Williams Valley in a Schuylkill League Division II showdown.
"On my senior night it's wonderful to come out and play like this and win,'' Troutman said.
Troutman finished 3-for-3 and came up with her biggest hit of the year in the fourth inning of a scoreless game.
With a runner on first base and one out, Troutman smashed a ball to the gap in left-center. Taryn Wilson scored easily, and when Williams Valley bobbled the relay throw, Troutman took off for the plate and scored.
The play put Tri-Valley in control and brought the large pack of Dawgs' fans along the first-base line to their feet.
"I felt it go, and I felt it was a good hit,'' Troutman said. "(When I scored), it was fantastic to have a 2-0 lead. It was awesome.''
So was winning pitcher Katie Rabuck (11-3), who hurled a three-hit shutout and struck out eight. Rabuck faced her biggest jam in the top of the first inning. A walk and an error on a sacrifice bunt gave the Vikings (15-4, 9-3 D-II) runners at second and third with nobody out.
Getting a shallow fly ball to Troutman in left, a strikeout and another flyout, Rabuck somehow found a way to keep Williams Valley off the scoreboard.
"It was huge. The first inning is always so nerve-wracking for me,'' Rabuck said. "After that I calmed down a little bit, and I wasn't so shaky anymore.
"That lifted everybody up. Everybody was so excited after that.''
Added Tri-Valley coach Marty Shade: "I'm a firm believer you can win games in the first inning. To get out of that inning really gave us a boost.''
Still scoreless in the fourth, Williams Valley's Katie Whelski led off with a triple to left-center. Again, Rabuck rose to the occasion, using a pop to the catcher and a strikeout for the first two outs.
Shortstop Chelsea Stutzman then made a diving catch of a sinking bat-handle pop just outside the circle to end the inning, save a run and kick up a huge cloud of dust.
"We were hitting the spots good, and a lot of pitches were working,'' Rabuck said. "I knew it was a huge game, so I had to bring it. I had a great defense behind me, and I knew they would (catch) anything.''
Added Shade: "At this time of year, pitching and defense is what wins the big games.''
After Whelski's hit, Rabuck retired the final 12 batters she faced. Not overpowering, Rabuck changed speeds brilliantly to keep the Vikings off-balance.
"She hits her spots, and we just don't hit her,'' Williams Valley coach Lee Reiser said of Rabuck. "We just don't hit in big games.''
Tri-Valley (15-4, 11-1) added an insurance run in the sixth. Jade Troutman came off the bench to execute a squeeze bunt that chased home pinch-runner Katie Dietrich.
Now all that stands between Tri-Valley and its first Division II championship since 2009 is Wednesday's game at Mahanoy Area. If the Dawgs win, they're the champs and move on to the Schuylkill League playoffs. A Tri-Valley loss could create a tiebreaker game for the division title. (Details of that game were unavailable prior to print production.)
The Dawgs faced the same situation last season but lost their league finale, 4-3 in nine innings at Schuylkill Haven.
Then they lost a tiebreaker game to Williams Valley, taking the Division II trophy away from the Dawgs and shutting them out of the league playoffs.
"I stressed to the team, as soon as I could after the game, all we did is clinch a tie,'' Shade said. "We did not win the division yet.
"So we have to practice (today) and get going,'' he added. "It's a nice win over a very good Williams Valley team. Districts will be interesting, and so will everything else.''