A wild final day of Section 5-AAA softball left several local teams confused about their playoff fates Tuesday evening.
A 9-6 loss in its section finale failed to keep Highlands (6-5, 5-5) out of the playoffs. The Golden Rams, who finished in a four-way tie with Hampton (5-6, 5-5), Kittanning (6-6, 5-5) and Knoch (9-7, 5-5), placed third in the section based on tiebreakers. Hampton, which had the best head-to-head record among the four with a 4-2 mark, took second. Highlands had the best head-to-head record, 3-1, among the remaining three.
Knoch (9-7, 5-5) stormed back to pull off a 12-9 upset of section leader Mars (7-8, 7-3). Codi Reed tripled and earned the win, while Chandler Krelow tripled and had three RBI.
Kittanning did its part to remain in the playoff picture by winning, 2-1, over Indiana (7-7, 3-7). Georgie Shoop hit a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to score the game-deciding run.
Players and coaches from Kittanning and Knoch believed their wins clinched playoff berths, but the WPIAL confirmed Hampton and Highlands are the only two qualifiers.
Burrell 14, Shady Side Academy 0 (5 inn.) — Ashley Szymkowiak doubled, tripled and drove in four runs during a three-hit day for Burrell (11-2, 11-2).
Winning pitcher Claire Fisher struck out six and held Shady Side Academy (1-13, 0-13) to one hit.
Ford City 8, Valley 1 — Brooke Stitt drove in two runs for Ford City (7-6, 7-6),in the Section 3-AA game. Winning pitcher Andrea Markilinski limited Valley (4-10, 4-9) to two hits.
St. Joseph 8, Leechburg 7 — Chris Gamble drove in Sam Thimons with a two-out single in the top of the seventh to give St. Joseph (2-9, 1-5) the game-deciding run in the Section 4-A game. Thimons finished with three singles, and Bobby Celender hit a three-run double in the fourth. Jared Ravotti doubled twice and hit a three-run homer for Leechburg (2-5, 2-4).
Deer Lakes 7, Ford City 0 — Ryan Perroz hit an RBI single to start a seven-run bottom of the sixth for Deer Lakes (13-3, 10-0) in the Section 3-AA game. Todd Coleman and Kevin Begley each singled twice and drove in two runs. Winning pitcher Adam Fredley held Ford City (5-7, 5-6) to four hits.
Valley 6, Highlands 2 — Jesse Iellimo had a double and three RBI for Valley (2-10, 1-7).
Highlands (3-7, 2-5) had five hits.
Apollo-Ridge 11, West Shamokin 0 (5 inn.)— Sam Held and Mike Percic each homered for Apollo-Ridge (8-10, 4-6), and Mitchell Johnston tripled during the Section 3-AA home win. Winning pitcher Delbert Brown held West Shamokin (2-10, 1-7) to one hit and struck out 12.
Central Catholic 3, Plum 1 — Winning pitcher Grant Gustic held Plum (13-3, 6-2) to four hits in the Section 3-AAAA victory for Central Catholic (13-2, 8-0), ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA by Trib Total Media.
WPIAL AAA doubles tournament — Fox Chapel's Sid Rajupet and Ben Short lost to defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Alok Nimgaonkar and Chris Grubbs of Shady Side Academy in the finals, 4-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3. They advance to the PIAA tournament, which begins May 24 at Hershey Racquet Club.
St. Joseph hires coach — St. Joseph hired former assistant Sally Ackerman as its girls basketball coach.
McCutcheon wins award — Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon received one of two Excellence Awards on Tuesday at the 57th annual Judge John J. Driscoll Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Awards. The honor recognized McCutcheon, who will wrestle at Penn State, as Westmoreland County's top male scholar-athlete. Burrell's Cole Bush was among the male finalists.