By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
WILKES-BARRE -- As soon as Alexis Shemanski made contact with the ball, she had a feeling she'd won the game.
Gabby Shrawder, Warrior Run's speedy center fielder, easily tracked down the ball and made a great catch to record the first out of the inning. The distance Shemanski's ball traveled was the key.
As soon as Shrawder caught it, Chelsea Skrepenak wasted no time and bolted down the third-base line to score, easily beating the throw to the infield.
And just like that, Warrior Run's hoped for return trip to the state final was over in the first round of the PIAA Class AA state tournament at Wilkes University's George Ralston Field.
Skrepenak's run off the Shemanski sacrifice fly was the only one in the 1-0 Royals' victory that lasted 8 innings.
"She's our fastest runner. It was far enough and she's fast enough and I knew it (was over)," Holy Redeemer pitcher Kaya Swanek said.
Skrepenak reached safely on a perfectly executed bunt single before Jenn Ringsdorf followed with a hit down the third-base line.
Warrior Run pitcher Tay Parker then intentionally walked Sydney Kotch to load the bases before Shemanski's sacrifice fly with no outs.
The first-round state playoff game turned into a pitchers' duel from the beginning between Parker and Swanek with a display of phenomenal defensive plays for good measure. The Royals (16-0) turned three double plays.
"These past games and all of our games throughout the season, (Swanek) has a ton of heart and we couldn't do it without her. We have a hard defense practice all the time. Defense wins championships and it's proven us right," Shemanski said with a laugh.
The District 5 champion Royals (16-0) entered the PIAA state playoffs for the first time in school history.