VA­CA­TIONS ON HOLD: Up­per Dauphin seniors change plans due to post­sea­son run

Up­per Dauphin’s lead­ers change beach va­ca­tions af­ter mem­o­rable run to state cham­pi­onship game

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY BOB LIPSKY stAFF Writer

ELIZABETHVILLE — Gra­cie Miller and her fam­ily were ready to leave for Ja­maica.

Lexi Weaver and Alli Sny­der had a dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tion: Ocean City, Mary­land.

For three Up­per Dauphin seniors, those va­ca­tions will have to wait.

That’s be­cause the District 3 cham­pion Tro­jans (16-8) will be play­ing in the PIAA Class AA soft­ball cham­pi­onship game at 11 a.m. Fri­day at Nit­tany Lion Soft­ball Park. The op­po­nent will be Mo­hawk (18-2), the No. 4 team out of District 7.

“Hon­estly, I can’t be­lieve we’re go­ing to the state cham­pi­onship,’’ Weaver said af­ter Mon­day’s semi­fi­nal win over Bris­tol. “It’s go­ing to be a crazy feel­ing, es­pe­cially all of us miss­ing our va­ca­tions be­cause we didn’t think we were go­ing to make it this far.’’

When it came time to make a de­ci­sion, the seniors chose soft­ball over sandy beaches.

“It’s a lot bet­ter feel­ing to go to Penn State for the state cham­pi­onship,’’ Weaver said.

Miller’s fam­ily was sup­posed to leave for Ja­maica last Satur­day, but the soft­ball play­offs got in the way. It all worked out, though, as the trip got pushed back to July.

“Once we had this op­por­tu­nity, I was like, ‘This is a once-in-a-life­time chance,’ ’’ Miller said. “Ja­maica is al­ways go­ing to be there. So I just have to stay home.’’

With the way the sea­son started, you could for­give those seniors for mak­ing va­ca­tion plans for the sec­ond week in June.

On April 28, the Tro­jans had a 4-8 record and were sitting at an or­di­nary 3-3 in the Tri-Val­ley League. UDA hasn’t lost since. The win­ning streak stands at 12, with a Tri-Val­ley League East Di­vi­sion cham­pi­onship, a District 3 Class AA crown and three state play­off games won along the way.

“We’re all a close group of girls,’’ Weaver said. “We won a bunch of games when we were younger, so we pulled to­gether. We said, ‘Lis­ten, we did it be­fore, and we can do it again.’

“This was not the sea­son we were hop­ing for.’’ Now it is. An­other rea­son Up­per Dauphin has got­ten on such a hot streak is that there’s gen­uine ca­ma­raderie among the play­ers. They’ve played to­gether for years in age­group ball grow­ing up, and with so much tal­ent, there was no rea­son to be a be­low .500 club.

“You should see the bus,’’ ju­nior short­stop Lea Lenker said. “The bus is crazy. That starts it. We’re so close. We cheer for every­one. If some­one gets down, we pick them back up. It’s awe­some.

“There’s a lot of singing,’’ Lenker added. “Mac (first base­man Ma­cen­zie He­pler) is our team DJ. She re­ally gets us pumped up.’’

With Weaver (pitcher), Miller (sec­ond base) and Sny­der (cen­ter field), Up­per Dauphin’s seniors pro­vide strength and ex­pe­ri­ence up the mid­dle.

“I needed them to step up,’’ Up­per Dauphin coach Bob Ligon said. “They’ve all been four-year starters so they know me, they know my coach­ing. They know how to play.’’

Weaver has got­ten bet­ter in the cir­cle as the games have got­ten big­ger. She shut out Min­ersville 10-0 in the state quar­ter­fi­nals and struck out 10 in a 4-1 win over Bris­tol in the semi­fi­nals. At the plate, Weaver has 11 home runs and 41 RBIs.

“Lexi’s been in the pro­gram since third or fourth grade,’’ Ligon said. “She’s be­come like my third daugh­ter.

“I’ve bro­ken half a dozen clip­boards (in frus­tra­tion) be­cause of her, but the kid is great,’’ he added. “She’s get­ting stronger as we go.’’

JAc­QUe­LiNe dorMer / stAFF PHo­toG­rA­PHer

Up­per Dauphin’s Lexi Weaver heads back to the dugout af­ter record­ing three outs dur­ing Mon­day’s PIAA Class AA state semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Bris­tol. Weaver has ex­celled at the plate and in the cir­cle for the Tro­jans, who have won 12 straight.

JAc­QUe­LiNe dorMer / stAFF PHo­toG­rA­PHer

Up­per Dauphin’s Alli Sny­der jumps on home plate while scor­ing a run dur­ing Mon­day’s PIAA Class AA state semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Bris­tol.

JAC­QUE­LINE DORMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Up­per Dauphin’s Gra­cie Miller con­nects with a pitch dur­ing Mon­day’s win over Bris­tol in a PIAA Class AA soft­ball semi­fi­nal at Lyons Field. Miller and her fam­ily post­poned a va­ca­tion to Ja­maica af­ter the Tro­jans reached the state fi­nal.

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