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Waynesboro makes maiden voyage into state playoffs

June 01, 2008

It's been a season of firsts for Waynesboro's softball team, and another one will happen Monday.

The Maidens (23-3) -- who already have earned the first Mid-Penn Conference title and first trip to the PIAA District 3-AAAA championship game in school history this season -- will play their first-ever state tournament game against Delaware Valley at Mid Valley High School in Throop, Pa., at 4 p.m.

"It has been just a great season, and for us to get all the accomplishments we have -- winning the (Mid-Penn) Colonial division, winning the Mid-Penn playoffs which was probably the biggest feat we've had in some time, then going into district play getting to the final is the icing on the cake," Waynesboro coach Doug Stuart said. "Losing in the final was tough after beating Lower Dauphin twice, but it's just been a storybook season and a great run, and a lot of records set.

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"We just try to take one game at a time, and now we regroup and start the third season, so to speak."

While the Maidens will be in the state tournament spotlight for the first time, their star pitcher -- junior Taryn Ashway -- is no stranger to the bright lights.

A two-time Herald-Mail All-Area First Team selection, Ashway has fashioned her best season yet. She's pitched every game and has a 0.52 earned run average. In 186 innings, she has allowed 78 hits and 44 walks while striking out 344 and twirling 14 shutouts -- the last two stats are school records.

"She's been a great competitor. She really enjoys pitching. She thrives on the competition and she really enjoys this game," Stuart said. "She's doing something she loves and she's been very good for us. She's kept us in a lot of games and through some crazy situations. She never ever complains -- you flip her the ball and say, 'Are you ready?' And it's always, 'Yes I am.'"

Waynesboro's lineup features solid balance. All nine starters hit .265 or better, with the Nos. 4 through 7 spots -- Emily Masters (.311, 4 doubles, 3 triples), Boo Kuhn (.390, 8 doubles, 2 triples), Mallory Wishard (.346, 7 doubles) and Amanda Gray (.346, 9 doubles, 6 triples) -- doing the most damage. Ashway has six home runs in the No. 3 spot, and every girl in the lineup has at least four extra-base hits.

"Our lineup is pretty dangerous No. 1 through 9," Stuart said. "All year, it's been somebody different. Boo and Mallory have had some big hits for us, especially through our playoff run. The key to the whole situation is Danni Miller (.298, 4 doubles, 2 homers, 9 steals). She's our leadoff hitter, and when she gets on base, we're pretty dangerous because she can run. It's been a lot of girls -- we have a lot of hitters with a lot of extra-base hits."

Delaware Valley (16-2) won the District 2 title for the first time since 1998 and will provide Waynesboro with its first test.

"They're fairly solid and pretty consistent," Stuart said. "They play pretty good defense, they have a pitcher with 1.65 ERA and they've won their league five or six years in a row. I think it's a great matchup for us. ... I like going into games where we don't know them and they don't know us because of Ashway. It takes teams a while to figure her out."

It's been a charmed ride for the Maidens this season, and Stuart hopes they keep getting the breaks.

"When it comes down to this time of year, everybody has good pitching, everyone runs well, everyone's good," Stuart said. "I think it's breaks -- who gets the first run across, who gets the first error -- that sends someone home."

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