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Two big innings fuel St. Mary's run to Monsignor Martin softball championship

St. Mary's of Lancaster rode a big inning and a gargantuan one to capture its second Monsignor Martin Association softball championship in three years.

The Lancers defeated Mount Mercy, 14-7, Wednesday afternoon at Sunshine Park in a clash between regular-season league co-champions that took nearly 2.5 hours to complete.

An estimated crowd of more than 300 watched St. Mary's rebound from a 1-0 deficit in a big way in the third inning by scoring four runs. The big blow came off the bat of freshman Ava Miller, who crushed a three-run homer to left center. Earlier in the inning, Riley Malicki's fielder's choice grounder on what appeared to be a contact play scored Sarah Hapeman from third.

Leading 5-2 after six, the Lancers put up a nine-spot in their half of the seventh, putting together an inning that featured seven hits and three walks. Senior and league player of the year Erin Hufford hit a three-run double as St. Mary's (14-4) sent 14 batters to the plate.

With the victory, the Lancers advance to the state Catholic final four Tuesday in New York City.

Miller finished 4 for 5, singling twice during the seventh-inning eruption and driving in two runs. Maggie Kellner went 2 for 2 with two walks and three runs scored. Hufford, a holdover from the Lancers' last championship, finished 1 for 4 and recorded the final two outs to preserve the win for starting pitcher Mackenzie Suto.

Emily Lewandowski went 2 for 4 with a homer for Mount Mercy (8-3).

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