C.B. South earns first state crown

Posted: June 16, 2012

STATE COLLEGE - With the lights-out duel being waged between Central Bucks South's Haileigh Stocks and Bishop Shanahan's Kate Poppe, it seemed as if Friday's PIAA Class AAAA softball final might go deep into the night.

But C.B. South scratched out a run against Poppe in the top of the ninth inning, and Stocks shut the door in the bottom half. With that, the Titans, despite totaling only three hits, earned a 1-0 victory at Penn State's Beard Field and captured the program's first state crown.

"It's about time we won," said Stocks, a Robert Morris recruit who posted 12 strikeouts and gave up four hits. "We've been waiting for this. It was our time."

The Titans reached the state final in 2009 and the semifinals in 2010. "We knew we had to try one last time," senior catcher Lauren Klepchick said. "I'm really proud of the team."

Poppe, who is headed to Villanova, lost despite racking up 16 strikeouts. She held C.B. South (22-4) hitless through six innings.

"She had a lot of movement on her pitches," Titans senior third baseman Morgan Decker said. "And she throws hard. Her rise ball is a killer."

Stocks led off the ninth inning with a double to left-center field. "I don't even know what kind of pitch it was," she said. "It was right at my knees, and I was looking for something low. I went with the pitch."

After Poppe got Decker to pop out and fanned Klepchick on four pitches, Hallie Bilker, the squad's No. 5 hitter, sent a grounder to the left of shortstop Alyssa Lewis. The ball squirted off her glove and into center field, allowing Stocks to score without a throw.

Stocks closed things out, sandwiching her 11th and 12th strikeouts around a groundout to third. She walked five.

In a contest that started 50 minutes late and lasted a little less than two hours, Stocks threw 151 pitches, with 98 for strikes. Poppe, a fellow senior righthander, tossed 130 pitches, with 94 for strikes.

"They really battled," said Decker, who will continue her career at Lehigh. "It was crazy. There were so many nerves. You can't even explain the way you feel."

Kathleen Devaney and Bridget Magee posted back-to-back singles to begin Shanahan's seventh. A fielder's choice and wild pitch left runners on second and third with one out. Stocks escaped the jam with a pair of K's.

In the eighth, the Eagles (23-4) had runners on first and second with one out. After they moved up on a groundout, Stocks, who mixed a drop curve and screwball, got Devaney to ground back to the mound.

It was a tough ending for Poppe, who fanned 390 batters and yielded only 20 earned runs in 205 innings this season.

Central Bucks South   000000001 - 131

Bishop Shanahan   000000000 - 041

WP: Haileigh Stocks. LP: Kate Poppe. 2B: CBS-Stocks, Lauren Klepchick.

Contact Rick O'Brien at robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone

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