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Mt. Pleasant softball scores historic win

Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Mt. Pleasant's bench clears to celebrate after Paige Hertzog scored the winning run against Waynesburg at Lilley Field at California University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Mt. Pleasant defeated Waynseburg 7-6.

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By Dave Stofcheck
Thursday, May 17, 2012, 12:29 a.m.
 

Despite being down to its final three outs, the Mt. Pleasant softball team ended years of playoff frustration Wednesday.

The Vikings scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Waynesburg, 7-6, in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game at California (Pa.). The victory was third-seeded Mt. Pleasant's first in the round of 16.

“How big was this win?” coach Rick Shaheen said. “It was huge.”

Mt. Pleasant (16-5) will face Riverside, the No. 6 seed, Monday.

After Waynesburg rallied to take a 6-5 lead with three runs in the top of the seventh, Mt. Pleasant went to work.

Heidi Kitta drew a four-pitch walk, and Paige Hertzog followed with a single to right-center. Whitney Thompson dropped down a bunt single to load the bases, and Shayla Landman followed with a liner off the glove of second baseman Hannah Gibbons to tie the score.

Jocelyn Gula then smacked the first pitch she saw into center for the winning hit.

Gula came into the contest hitting .460 with 23 RBI but was 0 for 3 before her final at-bat.

“(Waynesburg was) down, and they scored, and we were down, and we responded,” Shaheen said.

Leigha Pehrson earned the win by allowing eight hits and six earned runs. She walked five and struck out six.

Waynesburg (11-10) scored five runs in the final three innings but likely will think back to a missed opportunity in the first. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Raiders hit two pop-ups and had a runner picked off, wasting a chance to take the lead.

“That first inning killed us,” coach Jim Armstrong said. “But we fought back, and the girls never quit.”

Mt. Pleasant used five hits and two errors to put up five runs in the second. Jenna Szelong, Hertzog, Thompson and Landman drove in runs as the Vikings sent nine to the plate.

“When you get out of something like the first inning, it sets the tone for the rest of the game,” Shaheen said. “The team stepped up.”

Gibbons homered in the fourth for Waynesburg's first run, and Emily Luckey cut the Raiders' deficit to 5-3 an inning later with a two-run single. Waynesburg loaded the bases and was down to its final out in the seventh when Felicia Spitznogle delivered a two-run single.

The Raiders then took their first lead on Ashleigh Brumley's infield single.

Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer.

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