SOFTBALL: Lady Dragons put focus on D10 semifinal game

Warren’s girls softball team is the co-Region 7 champion at 15-1 overall, but has definitely faced enough adversity over the past week to make it a battle-tested team.

Firstly, the Lady Dragons had to travel to Erie on back-to-back days to finish a suspended game against McDowell. Warren won 3-0 in eight innings to finish 11-1 for a share of the region title – one of the team’s goals – with Fort LeBoeuf, last year’s District 10 champ.

“As a group, and as a team, we’re excited to have this opportunity to be back in the playoffs,” said Warren coach Mark Bupp. “But we have heavy hearts with the passing of Mark Garrett, who has umpired games we’ve played at the high school level and Little League all-star level. He was a consummate professional on and off the field. Our thoughts are with his family.”

The Lady Dragons must now put their focus solely on Hickory at 1 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals of the District 10 Class AAA playoffs at Allegheny College.

“Everybody’s records are the same at this point (in a single-elimination format),” said Bupp, whose Dragons could reach their fifth straight District 10 title game. Last year, Warren beat Hickory, 6-2, to advance to the championship game before losing to Fort LeBoeuf.

He said his group isn’t looking past Hickory, which has five returning starters from last year’s group and a pitcher Warren saw in relief in last year’s semifinal game.

“There seems to be a lot of parallels between the two teams,” said Bupp. “They have a freshman leading them in hitting, like we do. They have two freshman starters, like we do.”

Warren freshman catcher Paige Wilson is batting .660 (33-for-50) with four home runs, nine doubles and 28 RBI.

For Hickory, Mikhaila Layshock is hitting .556 (15-for-27) with a team-leading four homers.

“They look like a solid team,” said Bupp of the 11-3 Hornets. “We know we have to hit our spots.”

Junior Alexa Bupp is 13-1 with a 0.52 ERA in 14 games started.

Both teams hit a lot of extra-base hits.

For Warren, Kaitlin Ishman has four doubles, six triples and three home runs with a .535 batting average from the leadoff spot (27 runs scored). Alexa Bupp has seven doubles, three triples and five homers herself at a .511 clip.

The goal – always the goal – is to get an early lead.

“In their two losses to Corry, Corry put some runs up and was able to make them chase,” said Bupp. “We have to try to come out of the gate as quickly as we can.”

The other semifinal game between Region 6 champ Corry and Region 7 co-champ LeBoeuf is at 5 p.m. Thursday at Penn State Behrend.