Daniel Boone downed by Parkland in PIAA Class AAAA semifinal

ROYERSFORD — The Daniel Boone softball team believed.

Throughout their undefeated regular season in the Berks Conference, they believed.

All throughout their District 3-AAAA playoff run where they eventually lost to Lower Dauphin in the championship, they believed.

And on Monday, trailing by three runs late in their PIAA Class AAAA semifinal game against Parkland, Daniel Boone still believed.

But seeing is believing as the Blazers saw their season come to a close with a 4-1 loss to the Trojans at Spring-Ford High School.

While Daniel Boone’s season concludes, Parkland advances to the title game on Friday where they will face either Cumberland Valley or Hempfield Area, who play Tuesday afternoon. It will be District 11’s Parkland’s first championship appearance since the 2009 season.

All season long, Daniel Boone boasted a “We Believe’ mantra — something head coach Traci Huddleson says had driven her team to success.

“We’ve tried to keep that mentality going all season,’ she said. “They’re 100-percent heart, and they do believe in each other both on and off the field. It’s kept our players loose, which has really helped us to accomplish some great things this season.’

Lock Haven commit and left-handed pitcher Bekah Slattery played a huge role in each of the team’s accomplishments.

From her dominating efforts on the mound to her knack of landing a hit out of the leadoff spot, Slattery played a crucial role in each of the Blazers’ games throughout the past few seasons.

On Monday, the senior went all six innings in the circle for Daniel Boone, where she let up four runs (two earned) on 11 hits and three strikeouts to take the loss. She also scored the Blazers’ lone run, coming across on shortstop Sydney Hayes’ double in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game 1-1.

“We put together one heck of a season,’ said Slattery. “This definitely isn’t the way I wanted it to end, but I’m proud of everything we did this year.”We put together one heck of a season,’ said Slattery. “This definitely isn’t the way I wanted it to end, but I’m proud of everything we did this year.”

Fritzinger went all seven innings, allowed one run (unearned) on seven hits, no walks and three strikeouts.

“The girls showed a lot of character, something they’ve done all season,’ said Parkland head coach Barry Search. “Aubree did a really good job of limiting their hitters, and we made the hits when we needed them most.’

And the most-needed hits came in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Parkland loaded up the bases and eventually sent three runners across to take the eventual 4-1 lead.

The Blazers committed an error to start out the frame, and the hits kept on coming.

Parkland center fielder Kyleigh Staudt capped off the inning with a deep sacrifice fly to Brooke Piccarreta in center field.

Piccarreta delivered a strong throw to the plate, but Elizabeth Zubia slid just under the tag to make it a three-run game.

“It’s frustrating. They hit the ball hard and did everything they needed to do to win,’ said Slattery. “We were right there with them, but it just slipped out of our grip.’

And just like that, the Blazers’ run comes to an end.

“It was a magical ride this season,’ said Huddleson. “It will definitely be tough to replace our senior leadership, but I believe we have a bright future ahead. We have a lot of young players who played a huge role on our team this season. Hopefully they’re ready to become leaders.’

The Blazers will graduate Slattery, along with outfielder Alyssa Garner and catcher Savannah Toth.

And Slattery says the past four seasons with her team are a time she’ll keep with her.

“I learned so much during my time playing for Daniel Boone,’ she said. “My teammates backed me all season, and it pushed me to play that much harder. I’m sad it’s over, but definitely proud to say that I was a part of such a successful team.’

And with a slew of underclassmen returning next season, the Blazers will surely have something to keep believing in.

NOTES — Slattery stranded six Parkland runners on base while Daniel Boone left six. …Willman and Toth each finished 1-for-3.

I really couldn’t have asked for a better season. Our goal from the start was to make it to states. We made it here, and almost made it to the championship game.’

Hayes had two hits along with third baseman Cara Shackleford.

The Blazers offense started the afternoon with back-to-back hits to lead off the game.

But Hayes was tagged out at the plate trying to advance on an error on a fly out to center, sending Daniel Boone to the dugout with nothing to show after the first inning.

And the Parkland offense was set to spoil the Blazers’ plans, as all but one starter had a hit on the afternoon.

Taylor Knappenberger, Madison Marshall and Chelsea Morgan (one RBI) all posted two-hit games for the Trojans to back Aubree Fritzinger’s workmanlike performance in the circle.

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