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Mt. Pleasant softball falls to Riverside

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----Photo by Ronald Vezzani Jr./For the Daily News
Top high school sports
By Keith Barnes
Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 12:03 a.m.
 

Mt. Pleasant made considerable strides this season as the softball program continued its push toward becoming one of the WPIAL's elite teams.

Although the Vikings lost, 3-0, to perennial power Riverside in the Class AA quarterfinals Monday at North Allegheny, there was a sense that the team was heading in the right direction.

“To put the season in perspective, we won the section outright and won our first playoff game in the round of 16,” first-year coach Rick Shaheen said. “It was outstanding to be around these young ladies.”

Perhaps the biggest problem for Mt. Pleasant (16-6) was that it ran into a hot pitcher in Riverside junior Kirsten Wilson, who struck out 13 and allowed only one hit. The Panthers will play another Section 4 team, Greensburg Central Catholic, on Wednesday in the semifinals.

“She's awesome. This girl has done a phenomenal job all year,” Riverside coach Pam McCarty said. “The girl sucks it up and plays the game.”

Mt. Pleasant did not have a hit until Shayla Landman hit a looping single to center field with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. The Vikings had runners at second and third before Wilson posted her 10th strikeout by fanning Jocelyn Gula to end the threat.

Landman, who reached on a passed ball after a strikeout in the first inning, and Whitney Thompson, who walked in the fourth and sixth, were the Vikings' only baserunners.

“We scouted her and practiced for her, but we just didn't select very good pitches and, when we needed to, we weren't as aggressive as we usually are,” Shaheen said. “I've got to give her credit because she pitched a great game, and that was the first time all year that we saw a riseball like hers.”

Riverside (16-2) got all the runs it needed when it got to Mt. Pleasant pitcher Leigha Pehrson in the second. Wilson, the cleanup hitter, led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Nicole Mansfield poked a single through the hole between shortstop and third to put runners at the corners, then Raven Boots singled to center to score Wilson. Catelyn Wass singled home courtesy runner Nicole Cranz to make it 2-0.

“We scouted them, and ... we set our machine on the outside corner because we knew this girl hangs it on the outside,” McCarty said. “We practice every day and we always take something from it, and this is the result.”

Mt. Pleasant also had something to take away from the loss.

“You never want to end a season on a note like that,” Shaheen said. “But to make it to the playoffs and to go to the next level like we did is going to set the bar high for teams in the future for us.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kbarnes@tribweb.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.

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