Hot start pushes New Castle softball past Kittanning in WPIAL preliminary round
By Bill West
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 8:20 p.m.
The New Castle Red Hurricanes arrived, and a series of scattered single showers ensued during Kittanning softball's 9-4 loss in the WPIAL Class AAA preliminary round Tuesday at North Hills' McIntyre Field.
Bloops and gap shots allowed New Castle (7-11) to build an early lead and later pull away against the Wildcats (10-9), whose contact at the plate — while solid — often proved fruitless. The Red Hurricanes, who led 5-1 after the first inning and 9-4 after the third, finished with 13 hits to Kittanning's seven. The postseason victory was the first in New Castle's history, which stretches back to the early 1990s.
“They played a heck of a good defensive game,” Kittanning coach Keith Shaffer said, “and they took advantage of the opportunities they had, especially early on.”
The breaks began to favor New Castle just minutes into the game.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Lauren Pavia struck out but headed toward first base after her coach suspected a possible dropped third strike.
Confused for a moment, neither Kittanning catcher Cassie Merryman nor pitcher Courtney Edwards rushed to get the ball to first. Pavia ultimately beat a casual throw to the bag, and the umpire — over protests from Kittanning's bench — ruled that he had never called Pavia out.
Dana Perrotta followed with an infield single. Aleigha Withrow and Alyea Cioffi drove in one run each, and Shannon Dudich hit a two-run single to left field. Dudich scored one at-bat later on Jenna Frank's single down the left-field line.
Though Withrow, Dudich and Frank singled, each ended up at second base due to aggressive baserunning on the Kittanning outfielders' throws home.
Fearlessness on the basepaths stemmed from New Castle's desire for a playoff breakthrough, coach Leah Ann Williams said. The Red Hurricanes will play No. 2 seed Montour in a first-round contest at 4 p.m. today at Seneca Valley.
“We have nothing to lose,” she said. “We're very young — we have one senior and one junior — so we just want to be very aggressive and see what we can make happen.”
Down, 5-1, after the first inning, Kittanning closed the gap with a three-run bottom of the second. Terra Schall hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, and Nicole Johnson followed with a two-RBI triple down the right-field line.
New Castle's young lineup tended to crumble in close games during the regular season, Williams said. But the Red Hurricanes responded to the Wildcats' rally with four runs in the top of the third, and they finished without an error.
Kittanning stranded runners on second and third base in the fifth and left Josee Zydonik at third in the sixth.
“It was one of those days where it seems like everything they hit falls in,” Shaffer said, “and everything we hit was right at someone.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1321.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.