Carmichaels' five-run inning leads to first-round loss for Serra
For a while it appeared Serra Catholic might be able to pull off a huge upset on the first day of the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
In the end, though, Carmichaels just needed a little extra time to finally solve Eagles starter Ashley Likar.
Serra Catholic (9-10) gave third-seeded Carmichaels (20-1) all it could handle for a while, but the Mikes blew open a close game with a five-run fifth en route to a 10-0, six-inning victory over the Eagles at California (Pa.) University's Lilly Field. It was the Eagles first postseason appearance since losing to Avonworth in the 2009 WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.
“The first four-and-a-half innings we played great ball,” Serra Catholic coach Mike Elko said. “It's the just the bottom of the fifth, we were unlucky with a couple of missed catches and an error and they catch up to you sooner or later.”
Carmichaels designated hitter Regina Menhart led the 10-hit attack as she went 2 for 2 with three RBI, while catcher Lindsey Osborne was 2 for 4 with four RBI, including a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth that scored the ninth and 10th runs to put the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
“We felt like we were one hit away from breaking it open the whole game,” Carmichaels coach Dave Briggs said. “You start to worry as the game goes on, but I thought we would come around sooner or later.”
Likar was able to keep Carmichaels off-balance through four innings, allowing only four hits and one earned run. But the Eagles could not find a way to solve Mikes starter Cameron Grimes, who only allowed four hits and struck out three.
“That's the way she pitches,” Briggs said. “She's not a strikeout pitcher. She mixes it up and keeps them off-balance and relies on the defense behind her.”
Third baseman Allie Taylor was the only Serra Catholic player to reach second base against Grimes. Taylor hit a one-out double in the top of the sixth, but Grimes was able to work out of trouble without the runner advancing.
Grimes did not issue a walk and relied on her fielders to come up with 12 fly ball outs.
“We're not used to seeing a pitcher that slow in our conference and we were told that she threw in the high 40s or low 50s and it was not that speed,” Elko said. “She would throw a high 40s strike and come back with a knuckleball and a change-up and we're not used to that after going against Chartiers-Houston and Frazier.”
Serra Catholic will have quite a bit of time to get used to Carmichaels pitchers next season. Because of the biennial WPIAL realignment, the Eagles and Mikes will see each other twice in the regular season in Section 2 matchups.
“We'll see a different caliber of competition, and I have high hopes,” Elko said. “I think we can go to the playoffs every year from now on.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.