Opening day of the district softball playoffs was played with a picture perfect sunny backdrop as play began with Round One in three classifications. There were a couple of surprises and a couple of games that went beyond the standard seven innings to kick start the new expanded edition of the WPIAL Softball Playoffs. Here are the recaps from 6-A, 4-A and 3-A First Round action on Monday, all of which can be heard archived here on MSA Sports.
A special thanks to Sean Saputo, Sean Meyers, Lee Mohn, Bob Gregg, Rob McKinney, Lou Rood, Mark Schaas, Randy Gore, Rennie Detore, Johnny Lee, Mike Azadian, Steve Nagler, Nate Regotti and Justin McCauley for their help on these recaps.
WPIAL CLASS 6-A First Round:
North Hills Indians 6 – Bethel Park Black Hawks 4
At North Allegheny High School in WPIAL Girls class 6A softball first round playoff action the North Hills Indians come from behind twice and win 6-4 over the Bethel Park Blackhawks. Bethel scored first with 2 runs in the first inning on 2 hits and an error to go up 2-0 after 1 inning. They would leave 4 runners in scoring position thru the first three innings. The Indians would go ahead 3-2 in the 3rd inning on 4 hits and an error. The big hits were from Madison Posterivo an RBI single and Aidan Harrison an RBI double. The Blackhawks would score single runs in the 4th and 5th innings to retake the lead 4-3. Despite scoring in 3 of the first 5 innings they left 7 runners on base. North Hills would climb from behind again in the 6th inning. They would bat around getting only 1 hit, but get on base with 3 walks and and 2 errors to surge ahead 6-4. North Hills pitcher Megan Hitchan would retire 6 of the final 7 hitters to preserve the win for the Indians. North Hills improves to 11-9 on the season and will play Hempfiled in the quarter finals. Bethel Park ends their season at 11-6. Hitting stars on the night, for the Black Hawks Lainey Drahusz had 2 singles and an RBI, and Cheyene Hamel had 2 singles and a run scored. For North Hills, Posterivo had 2 singles, an RBI, and a run scored. Mackenzie Saban had 3 singles and an RBI.
North Allegheny Tigers 7 – Fox Chapel Foxes 6
In a back-and-forth WPIAL first round matchup at Hampton Community Park, the North Allegheny Tigers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 7-6 victory over Fox Chapel in walk-off fashion on Monday. Sophomore Brooke Serbin drove in the game-winning run with an RBI double that scored Ashley Borg to propel the Tigers to the victory. Making its third consecutive appearance in the WPIAL playoffs, 12th-seeded Fox Chapel struck first for a two unearned runs in the top of the first inning for a 2-0 lead. Alyssa Guzzie scored on an error and Tawnya Holben added a run with an RBI single. North Allegheny responded quickly in the bottom of the first inning for a 3-2 lead thanks to a sacrifice fly RBI by Rachel Martindale, an RBI double by Kristen Chomos and an RBI single by Regan Brodine. The Tigers added on to lead in the second inning courtesy of an RBI triple by Martindale for a 4-2 advantage. Two Fox Chapel errors in the third inning helped produce another run to bring the score to 5-2, Tigers. The feisty Foxes chipped away with an RBI groundout by Grace Katz in the fourth inning to cut the score to 5-3. A North Allegheny error gave Fox Chapel another run in the fifth inning to trim the lead to 5-4. In the top of the seventh and down to their final out, the Foxes came all the way back with a two-run single by Calle Zmenkowski to grab a 6-5 lead. Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Brodine appeared to have popped out to second but an illegal pitch was ruled on Fox Chapel reliever Emma Humes to continue the at-bat. Brodine ultimately earned a walk and was substituted by pinch runner Lauren McElree. Thanks to another illegal pitch, McElree advanced to second base and scored moments later scored on an RBI double by Ashley Adams to tie the game at 6-6. Borg entered as the pinch runner for Adams and raced home with the game-winning run on the lined double to left-centerfield by Serbin to give the Tigers a 7-6 triumph. North Allegheny improves to 12-7 overall, while Fox Chapel’s season ends with an 8-11 record. The Tigers will take on No. 4 seed Canon-McMillan on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
Shaler Titans 6 – Norwin Knights 1
Shaler and Norwin entered the WPIAL playoffs as two of the hotter teams in Class 6 A with the Titans winning four of their last five and the Knights winners of their last three. Shaler kept its winning ways intact, however, with a 6-1 victory Monday night at Gateway High School in a WPIAL Class 6A first round game. Norwin couldn’t do much again Shaler and starting pitcher Lily Buckshaw, who scattered four hits and gave up just one run. Buckshot worked efficiently and consistently, keeping the ball down and allowing her stellar defense to go to work. Buckshaw finished with just three strikeouts but kept the Norwin hitters off balance throughout, and at one point retired nine batters in a row and had two, one, two three, innings. Conversely, Norwin’s starter, Danielle Chorba, fell behind early and often against the Shaler lineup and had control issues throughout the game, walking four batters and finishing with six strikeouts. Chorba didn’t get a whole lot of help from her defense, however, unlike that of Buckshaw and the Titans. Norman committed two errors, both of which led to runs from Shaler and extended innings as a result. Shaler (11-7) started the scoring with two outs in the bottom of the first with back to back singles by Lauren Miller and Lyndsey Lakatos, who finished the game 3 for 3 with a walk and 4 runs batted in from her cleanup spot. Lakatos’ first-inning single put Shaler up 1-0 and the Titans would add another run in the third on an RBI single from Kara Bosilovich, which scored Miller, who walked with one out in the bottom of the third. The real backbreaker for Norwin came in the bottom of the fourth, when the Titans plated three runs, two of which came off a double from Lakatos. Trailing 5-0, Norwin scored in the top of the sixth to pull within four with two outs when Johna Karas singled home Hailee Culbertson, who walked after Buckshaw retired Leah Yoder and Victoria Shimko to start the top half of the fifth. Shaler, however, got that run back in the bottom of the sixth when a throwing error by Culbertson put Miller on first, who scored on Lakatos’ fourth RBI, a double that made it 6-1 in favor of Shaler. The Titans move on to the quarterfinals and a matchup against Baldwin (12-3), the No. 2 seed in Class 6A in a game to be played Wednesday, date and time to be announced. Norwin’s season ends with an 8-9 overall mark, as the Knights made the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Latrobe Wildcats 2 – Mount Lebanon Blue Devils 1 in 9 Innings
A pitching duel between Greater Latrobe’s Kiley Myers and Mount Lebanon’s Catie Rogan on Monday couldn’t be settled in regulation, but the Wildcats prevailed with a 2-1 walkoff victory in nine innings. Myers struck out 16 to earn the victory, while Karley Kovatch’s hit plated the winning run for the No. 6 seed Greater Latrobe in the 6A first-round game at Gateway High School in Monroeville. Both offenses were held in check for the first two innings, but the Wildcats scored the game’s first run in the third, aided by a Blue Devils’ miscue. With one out, GL’s Rebecca Tatone reached on an error, and scored on a two-out double by Sarah Blair. That was the only offense until the top of the seventh, while the No. 11 Blue Devils found life. After producing just three hits through the first six frames, Mount Lebanon opened the stanza with consecutive singles by Emily Amato and Danielle Malazio. With runners at second and third and one out, Michelle Malazio bunted a ball to third, and Makayla Munchinski feigned a throw to first, but spun and threw behind her to third, eliminated Amato, who had ventured off the bag on the play. Mount Lebanon stayed alive, though, as Danielle Malizio stole third, and then scored the tying run when a slow roller from Kate Barone went through the legs of Myers for an error. Myers averted further damage, however, and she and Rogan continued to excel. In the bottom of the ninth, Wildcats’ speedster Angela DiOrio reached on an error to open the inning, and then stole second. After Munchinski was robbed by Mount Lebanon left fielder Michelle Malizio for the first out, Kovatch ripped a double off the glove of a diving Malazio to end the contest. While Myers allowed just five hits, Rogan was the tough-luck loser, surrendering only four hits. With the triumph, Greater Latrobe advances to face No. 3 Seneca Valley on Wednesday, at a time and location to be determined.
WPIAL CLASS 4-A First Round:
Indiana Little Indians 7 – Hopewell Vikings 1
On Monday, Indiana won big over Hopewell, 7-1, in the first round of WPIAL Class 4A Girls Softball Playoffs. The Little Indians came out firing, scoring 4 runs in the first inning. Indiana starting pitcher Lauren Bertig threw a complete game, allowing 7 hits, 1 run, and tallied 9 strikeouts. Despite the lights out pitching from Bertig, Hopewell’s Kacey Weller went 2-4 and notched 1 RBI. Enjoying a solid day at the plate for the Little Indians was Haley Zimmerman, who had 3 hits in 4 at-bats and drove in a run. The Little Indians next contest will be against Yough in WPIAL Quarterfinals.
Ambridge Bridgers 13 – Highlands Golden Rams 3
The #4 seeded Ambridge Bridgers got off to a slow start falling behind #13 Highlands 3-1 before scoring 10 unanswered runs and winning 13-3 in six innings. Highlands scored their three runs on an RBI double from Tori Lohler an RBI triple from Olivia Graff and a Bridger error. The Bridgers would tie the score in the bottom of the third getting RBI singles from Sydney Hopkins and Haylee Holman. The Rams defense would falter committing six errors over the next three innings and Ambridge would take advantage scoring 10 runs. Kim Kuzma and Sydney Hopkins would lead the attack with three hits while Cierra Flannigan and Alex Bupp had two hits a piece. Ambridge will now face South Fayette on Wednesday in the quarterfinals.
South Fayette Lions 6 – Knoch Knights 4 in 9 Innings
It took nine innings for the 15-seeded South Fayette Lions to upset the 2-seeded Knoch Knights 6-4 Monday afternoon at North Allegheny High School. These two high-powered offenses were held in check for the first half of the game but finally came alive as Knoch would get out to a two-run lead in both the fourth and fifth inning. South Fayette would answer back again and again, but never seem to get the hit to break it wide open. South Fayette come back fell on the shoulder of two freshmen who in their first WPIAL playoff action played like veterans. Freshman pitcher Madison Potteiger took over the circle for Claire Previte in the sixth inning and shut down the Knoch hitters for the rest of the game. The other freshman Ashley Micholas hit the game winning RBI in the top of the ninth inning to give the Lions the lead once and for all. As Potteiger shut the door in the bottom half to give the Lions a huge upset in the first round and advance. South Fayette will play Ambridge on Wednesday May 17th, @ 4:00pm at West Allegheny High School.
Central Valley Warriors 4 – Derry Trojans 2
The 7th seeded Central Valley Warriors fell behind early but got a pivotal 3-run HR from Calista Taormina in the 3rd inning and held on to advance into the quarterfinals of the 4A softball championship bracket. Derry went on top in the top of the 1st inning as Taylor Wambold doubled to lead off the game. Two outs later, Chelsea Bisi singled home Wambold to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead. Bisi then stole 2B and came home on a single by Kam Kelly. It stayed 2-0 till the 3rd inning. Kylie Magnotta led off the inning by singling to center field. After a fielders choice, Leah Treemarchi doubled to deep center field. Both Nikki Goletti and Treemarchi scored on the long HR by Taormina. The Warriors added an insurance run in the bottom of the 6th inning. Leigha Knox led off the inning with a double and scored on an RBI groundouts by Magnotta. Central Valley (11-6) advances to the quarterfinal round with the win and will face 2nd seeded Belle Vernon on Wednesday, date and time to be determined.
Elizabeth Forward Warriors 14 – Beaver Bobcats 1
The #11 seeded Elizabeth Forward Warriors defeated #6 seeded Beaver 14-1 at Baldwin, cruising to a first round victory in the 2017 WPIAL 4A softball playoffs. The game was scoreless through the first 3 innings as both pitchers Lauren Matthews of EF and Allison Teagle of Beaver cruised allowing their opponents only 1 hit apiece. EF had only one base runner and Beaver two runners through three, but that quickly changed in the top of the 4th as the Warriors led off with consecutive singles by Cassidy Kern and Jessica Cartia. Kaylee Ludwick attempted to put down a sacrifice bunt, but Cassidy Kern beat the throw to 3rd that allowed all the runners to be safe. That brought up Taylor Ludwick who hit a 2-2 pitch on a line drive over the fence in right center for a Grand Slam HR and an instant 4-0 EF lead. After not scoring in the 5th inning, EF broke open the game in the 6th inning when Taylor Ludwick led off with a double. Following a pop up out, Lexi Argyros singled to left forcing Ludwick to hold at 2nd. A Teagle Wild Pitch allowed both Ludwick and Argyros to advance to 2nd and 3rd. Ludwick then scored the 5th EF run on Lindsay Crovak’s RBI double and Argyros scored the 6th run on Matthew’s RBI single. Crovak came home with the Warrior’s 7th run on Kern’s RBI single as EF had 5 hits in the inning. Beaver tallied theior lone run of the game on Tayven Rousseau’s towering HR blast to left field with 2 outs, but that was all the offense the Bobcats could muster. EF tallied 7 more runs in the top of the 7th on 6 hits including 3-run HR’s from both Jessica Cartia and Lauren Matthews. In all the Warriors had 17 hits in the game. Kern was 4-4 with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored, Cartia 3-5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored, Taylor Ludwick 3-4 with 4 RBI and 3 runs scored, Argyros 2-4 and 2 runs scored, and Matthews 2-4 with 3 RBI and 1 run scored to lead the way for EF’s offense. Matthew’s scattered 5 hits while walking only 1 and striking out 1 to pick up the win. Tayven Rousseau had a single and a HR for 2 of the Bobcats 5 hits in the game. Beaver finishes the season with a 10-7 record. EF improves to 9-11 overall and heads into a Quarterfinal matchup with the #3 seed Mt. Pleasant Vikings who had a first round bye..
WPIAL CLASS 3-A First Round:
Burrell Buccaneers 5 – McGuffey Highlanders 4
Brittney Dunn went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh inning as #8 Burrell downed McGuffey, 5-4. Delaney Markle reached on a dropped flyball to open the final frame, went to second on Alaina York’s bunt single and to third, beating the throw on a sacrifice, loading the bases. After a pop out, Dunn blooped a hit just into rightcenter, off the glove of the McGuffey second baseman and Markle scored to end the game. Dunn got the win for Burrell (8-7), putting the Bucs into the quarterfinals against top-seeded Ellwood City. The righthander allowed four runs, two earned on seven hits, walking three and striking out a pair. York reached base all four times to the plate, including a triple to the fence in leftcenter. The Bucs’ centerfielder scored three runs. Lea Coffman had a double and a singeld for Burrell. Ella Brookman took the loss for McGuffey (7-12), charged with five runs, three earned on nine hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Brookman singled three times and drove in one run, scoring two others. Ellie Serna had two hits and drove in the Highlanders’ final run.
Southmoreland Scotties 16 – Riverside Panthers 1
The fourth seeded Scotties made quick work of the Panthers at Hampton Community Park to advance to the quarterfinals. Southnoreland (10-6) pounded out 13 hits in just two innings at the plate. The Scotties scored seven in the bottom of the first, the key hit was a two run single br winning pitcher Katie Trosi-Clark. The Section 3 runner up added nine in the second as the first eight batters reached safely. Olivia Porter and Trost-Clark were each 3 for 3. Adeline Nicholson went 2-2 and Charity Henderson went 2-3. Porter and Nicholson each drove in three, while Trosi-Clark, McKenna Myers and Maegan Shetterly drove in two apiece. Riverside (4-10) had only two base runners without a hit. MaKenzie McElwain took the loss for the Panthers, who suffered their eighth run rule loss of the year and ended the season with five straight losses.
South Allegheny Gladiators 11 – Freedom Bulldogs 1
For the first time since 1984, the Freedom Bulldogs played in a WPIAL playoff game. The return provided no easy task, as the bulldogs faced off against the South Allegheny Gladiators, making their fourth straight playoff appearance. It nearly went the distance, but the Gladiators used a six-run sixth inning to top the Bulldogs 11-1, in a ten-run rule victory ending in the sixth. The Gladiators struck first, in the bottom of the first, when starting pitcher Sara Pribanic singled in catcher Mikala Sweringen’s courtesy runner Kennedy Lawson, making it 1-0 after one inning. Both teams went scoreless in the second and third, before the Gladiators extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth. A double, walk, single and error, all in a row, with two outs, provided the 3-0 lead. Second baseman Madison Kirkwood provided the runs with the two-RBI single. In the fifth, the Gladiators again added three runs, all with two outs, on an RBI single by Kelsey Denk and a two-RBI single by designated hitter Madison Taylor, making it 6-0 through five. The Bulldogs scored its lone run in the sixth with three straight three out hits. Catcher Trisha Speicher scored on an RBI single by third baseman Alyssa Page, cutting the score to 6-1. However, the Gladiators ended the game early, scoring five runs in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder Bailey Myers notched an RBI triple to make it 7-1, third baseman Aliyah Rotharmel made it 8-1 on an RBI single, left fielder Taylor Lucas notched a two-RBI single to make it 10-1 and Madison Taylor ended it on an RBI single. South Allegheny used two-out magic all afternoon, as it scored 10 runs on 11 hits with two outs, while Freedom ultimately left five of its six runners left on in scoring position. Pribanic picked up the win for the Gladiators, throwing a complete game allowing one earned run on five hits, striking out six and walking two. Madison Slowinski received the loss for the Bulldogs, allowing 11 runs, all earned on 15 hits, striking out five and walking three. Freedom ends its season with an 8-9 overall record and lose one senior to next year’s squad. South Allegheny will look to make the semi-finals for the first time since 2011, when it faces the Southmoreland Scotties at a site and time to be determined.
Freeport Yellow Jackets 6 – Steel Valley Ironmen 4 in 9 Innings
Walk Off Alert! Walk Off Alert! On a sun splashed afternoon at Fox Chapel HS, it took nine innings, but the 7th seeded Freeport Yellow Jackets were finally able to sting the 10th seeded Steel Valley Ironmen and come out with a 6-4 victory to advance in the WPIAL 3A Softball Playoffs And a Walk Off it truly was, as Freeport’s outstanding shortstop, Clare Crytzer, drilled a fastball over the right-center field fence in the bottom of the ninth to drive in Ashley Schmidt ahead of her, and send the Jacket faithful up 28N with the hard fought victory. The game featured two outstanding control pitchers in Steel Valley’s Sam Arthrell and Freeport’s Kristie Radvan. Both pitchers, behind some incredible defensive plays, battled all afternoon. Freeport scored a run in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Ally Dejidas. Steel Valley tied the game in the top of the second on an RBI double by Veronica Sikora. The pitching and defense took over until Freeport was able to plate three again with a big base hit by Torre Radvan. The Ironmen refused to go down easily, as they rallied for 2 in the Sixth and one in the Seventh to force the extra frames. The Yellow Jackets got impressive performances at the plate as their 1-2-3 hitters, Schmidt, Crytzer, and Dejidas combined for 9 hits. Krista Bayus, Steel Valley’s fine third baseman, had four hits for the Ironmen. The 2nd seeded South Park Eagles await the Yellow Jackets. Day, Site and Time to be determined.
Avonworth Antelopes 11 – Waynesburg Raiders 1
Avonworth (13-5) hit three homeruns in the first inning to propel itself to an 11-1 victory in five innings over Waynesburg (9-9) in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA softball playoffs on Monday. Waynesburg starting pitcher Courtney Yuhas saw just three batters, giving up a walk and hitting two batsman before Emma Ricuitti was tapped for relief. With the bases loaded, Avonworth’s Kimmi D’Ottavio smacked a monster grandslam over the left field fence to give the Antelopes a 4-0 lead. Sarah Helfrich followed with a solo homerun of her own. After a few errors and two unearned runs, Domi Raught hit a two-run homer to cap the scoring and give Avonworth a 9-0 lead after the opening frame. The Antelopes would tack on two more in the fourth. Waynesburg finally got on the board in the fifth when Sydney Hare used just one pitch to stroke a solo homer, but it wasn’t enough and Avonworth advanced to the quarterfinals courtesy of the ten-run mercy rule. Starting pitcher Maya Kozup picked up the two-hit win in the circle for Avonworth. The Antelopes advance to play third-seeded Deer Lakes, which had a bye in the first round.