The Brandywine Heights softball team is on course to have another opportunity to capture what has so far been an elusive state title after the Lady Bullets beat Pequea Valley, 1-0, in Denver to win their third District 3 Class AA title in four years.Despite only scoring one run on junior pitcher Alyssa Fegely's homer to lead off the bottom of the sixth, the Bullets (25-1) hit the ball hard at times.
"We put the bat on the ball every inning and put pressure on them almost every inning," Brandywine manager Don Roach said. "The first inning, three of our kids reached base, two, in the second and one, in the third, but we just couldn't score."
The Braves, on the other hand, only advanced a runner to second base once as Fegely was her usual invincible self, allowing one infield hit, walking one, hitting one batter and striking out nine.
Fegely relied on her normal repertoire of pitches that include a rise ball, a drop, fastball and a changeup. Pequea Valley pitcher Jessica High also struck out nine and allowed three hits, two of them to Fegely. Fegely reached base safely on three occasions via a walk, a single and her game-winning homer.
"High was getting our hitters out with a low and outside fastball," Roach said. "She's a good pitcher who was hitting her spots, but Alyssa has been in a lot of tough games, stays focused on her role and tries to take care of business."
On her homer over the left fielder's head, Fegely heeded some advice given to her by teammate Kasey-Jo Burnish, the starting shortstop.
"I told Alyssa to hit it hard and deep because I saw the left fielder playing in," Burnish said.
The rest was history.
In the Bullets' county and district championship runs this season, Burnish believes their success resulted from playing aggressively together and picking each other up.
"We're more hungry than we were before," Burnish said. "We have played as a team all the time."
Burnish began the post-season in a hitting slump, but has since contributed with the bat to the Bullets' attack. However, she and most of her teammates couldn't solve the Braves' High.
"We weren't as aggressive at the plate as we should have been against Pequea Valley, but we got better as the game went on," Burnish said.
Fegely produced at the plate as usual by staying away from High's junk pitches, but most of her teammates weren't as fortunate.
"It was a big game, and we were a little nervous," Fegely said. "Some of my team-mates were called out looking on third strikes. (When I was at the plate), I waited for my pitch and hit it."
On her homer, Fegely was protecting the plate and didn't miss a mistake pitch thrown right down the center of the plate when she connected on the 2-2 offering.
"Last year, we beat Boiling Springs, 2-1, in the District 3-AA championship when I scored the first run, and Alex Najpauer scored the game-winner," Fegely said. "Although both of these games were close, we still won."
The Bullets continued their march to a second straight appearance in the state championship by beating Mifflinburg, 1-0, in the first round of states on June 2 at Lyons.
With one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the fourth, Dani Brensinger singled in pinch-runner Abbey Hordendorf by just clearing a drawn in infield with her bloop hit. And this turned out to be all the offensive production the Bullets would need.
"Coach doesn't usually say much about a postseason opponent because he doesn't want us to feel too overconfi-dent or under-confident," Fegely said. "He wants us to just go out there and play."
Fegely definitely thinks the Bullets can finally win a state championship this year since the majority of the team experienced the agony of losing last year and is ready to move on to experience the joy of a state championship victory celebration.