Connellsville softball team finds itself on hot streak

| Friday, April 20, 2012

After losing six games in a row, the Connellsville girls softball team knew it had to have a good week to get back in the playoff hunt in Section 1-AAAA.

Mission accomplished.

The Falcons snapped their slide with a win over Albert Gallatin on Tuesday, then followed up with a 2-1 victory over visiting Kiski Area on Thursday.

Meghan Uher pitched a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts, and Alyssa Orndorff drove in both Connellsville runs as the Falcons (4-8, 2-5) avenged a 10-9 loss to the Cavaliers from earlier this season.

'We`ve still got a shot at the playoffs,' Connellsville coach Tom Nickelson said. 'There`s no doubt about it.'

In the first meeting between the two teams, Kiski`s Taylor Muffie and Maddie Antone each had big games. But in the rematch, Uher and the Connellsville defense were able to limit Kiski`s big bats.

The Cavaliers (4-7, 2-5) struck first as Muffie led off the game with a double. She scored on a groundout by Emma Weaver to give Kiski a 1-0 lead.

With two outs, Antone hit a single but was left stranded. More importantly, Antone`s hit was the last hit Uher gave up the rest of the game.

'Meghan did a great job,' Nickelson said. 'She put the ball where she had to, and our defense played well.'

The Cavaliers managed just two baserunners in the final six innings.

While Connellsville was strong defensively, the offense struggled at times but came through in the clutch.

In the second inning, the Falcons tied the game as Jena Bukovac singled and moved into scoring position on a hit by Rachel Oplinger. Bukovac, who finished with two hits, scored when Alyssa Orndorff reached on a fielder`s choice.

Connellsville had runners on base in every inning except the first, but Kiski pitcher Sydney Greece managed to pitch out of some tough spots. She gave up six hits and had three strikeouts.

Connellsville finally broke the tie in the sixth. Oplinger walked before Orndorff hit a one-out RBI double that drove in pinch-runner Amanda Dewitt with the game-winning run.

'Alyssa is coming around,' Nickelson said of his freshman second baseman. 'She is still learning. But she puts the ball in play, and you have to give a girl like that an opportunity to play. We gave her a hit-and-run, and she had the opportunity and took it.'

Uher ended the game by getting a strikeout and a pair of groundouts in the seventh. She retired the final 11 batters she faced.

'We just didn`t hit,' Kiski coach Dianne Haney said. '... I asked players to play in different positions because of injuries, but I thought our defense played well. They got the one extra (timely) hit, so that tells you that the play was pretty even.'

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