Wright sac fly lifts Rustin to first district playoff win in school history

WESTTOWN — Most young softball players dream of coming to the plate in extra innings with the bases loaded and a chance to knock in the winning run in a playoff game.

Rustin freshman Lexi Wright found herself in exactly that situation Monday afternoon in the opening round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs.

With one strike on her after a bad swing, Rustin head coach Bruce Dudley called time out to calm Wright’s nerves.

“That first swing was pretty ugly,’ said Rustin coach Bruce Dudley. “She’s just a freshman. So I called time-out just to calm her down and relax.’

On the next pitch, Wright ripped a fast ball to deep centerfield, which was more than enough to knock in Anna Steinmetz as she tagged from third base and easily scored for a 4-3 victory in nine innings over Conestoga.

The win was the first in the district playoffs in Rustin history,

Rustin will travel to third-seeded North Penn in the second round Wednesday at 4 p.m.

That timeout Dudley called definitely helped Wright, who was mobbed by her teammates just seconds later after sending the Golden Knights to the next round of the playoffs.

“I was definitely nervous,’ said Wright. “But we didn’t have anyone out, so I knew all I really needed to do was put the ball in play. So I just took my best cut to make contact, and it worked out for us. It just feels great to get this win.’

Wright’s chance for heroics came when the Pioneers opted not to give Steinmetz or Caela Abadie a chance to end the game with one swing, opting to walk both to start the inning. Rachel Fricker loaded the bases by beating out a bunt single.

“I had a lot of confidence that this team would come through as soon as Conestoga put the winning run at second with nobody out,’ said Abadie. “I believe in this team so much. Everyone has worked so hard and everyone of us has improved so much this year. This is just an awesome feeling.’

Abadie put the team up 2-0 in the first with a monster home run to straightaway center. The blast knocked in Steinmetz (2 for 2, three walks) who had reached on a single. The home run was the 31st of Abadie’s career, tying Liberty’s Mariah Kondravy for the state record. Abadie, a junior, still has another year to go.

“It’s cool to get a record,’ said Abadie. “I work really hard, and hopefully I’ll just keep improving. But getting the first district win is so well-deserved for everyone. We did it for ourselves, we did it for the alumni, we did it for anyone who supports us. Now we have to get win number two.’

A 2-0 lead looked like it might be all the Golden Knights would need, as Abadie was also pitching a gem, carrying a no hitter into the fifth inning. Jenna Nelson broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out bunt for a single.

The Pioneers upped the ante in the fifth, loading the bases with one-out before Wright used her glove to get out of the inning. She grabbed a sinking line drive off her shoe tops and fired to first for an inning-ending double play.

Conestoga finally got on the board in the seventh. Katherine Lenker and Giovanna Lorine opened the inning with back-to-back single.

With one out, Nelson dropped down another bunt. This time the throw went to right field, and Conestoga coach Meghan Brogan waved home Maddie Detwiler. Detwiler, inserted as a pinch runner for Lenker, barely evaded the tag from Steinmetz and scored.

A sacrifice from Olivia Youman and a single from Brittany Myers brought home Lorine and Nelson respectively.

The Golden Knights sent the game to extras when Linsday Mitchell singled to right-center to knock in Steinmetz, who had reached on the second of the three walks issued to her on the day.

“Obviously, we just wanted to give ourselves a chance, and we did,’ said Brogan. “After that first inning, we all settled down, and started seeing some better at bats. That’s the thing with this team, we could be down by 12 and this team won’t blink. They’ll never quit, and will fight until the bitter end.’

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