Another chance pays off for Deer Lakes softball
After coming up short at the plate several times, Deer Lakes sophomore Sierra Sarver wanted one more shot.
It came in the bottom of the 10th inning, and Sarver hit a single up the middle with the bases loaded to lift the Lancers to a 6-5 victory over Mohawk in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals at McIntyre Elementary School in Ross Township.
Deer Lakes (17-1) will face top-seeded Neshannock in the semifinals Wednesday. If the Lancers win, they will play for the WPIAL title May 31 at California (Pa.). If Deer Lakes loses, the Lancers will play the other semifinal loser in a PIAA qualifier May 29.
Hannah Blinn led a 19-hit Deer Lakes attack with five, making her 9 for 9 in two playoff games. Mohawk concluded its campaign 13-8.
Sarver, the team's cleanup hitter, hit the ball hard several times earlier, but Mohawk defenders made the play each time.
“We really wanted to win this game; we fought so hard,” Sarver said. “I was frustrated, but I counted on our team to pull together.”
Employing the international rule of starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base, Deer Lakes pinch runner Haley Fetchell strayed too far off the bag on a grounder to shortstop by Leanne Crawford and was tagged out.
Becca Babincak, who had been hitless in five at-bats, placed a bunt perfectly between the pitcher's circle and first base for a single. Katie Gozzard then bunted up Crawford and Babincak. Candace Scanga, who had four hits, was given what Mohawk coach Pam Beatty described as an unintentional intentional walk.
“That girl was hot, too,” Beatty said of Scanga.
“I think everybody on this bench really felt that, if she came up in this situation, it plays right into Sierra,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “She did a heck of a job getting that big hit.”
Deer Lakes left 15 runners on base and had the side retired in order just once.
The Lancers nearly won the game in seven innings. Trailing, 5-3, in the bottom of the seventh, Blinn led off with a single and Tiffany Edwards walked. Haliey Moretti then pounded a triple to deep right to tie the score and put the winning run on third with no outs.
Courtney Lubrick then hit a pop up that Warriors shortstop Shelby Brown ranged far to her right to catch. Crawford hit a bouncer back to pitcher Jaki Bender, who threw to first. When courtesy runner Bailee Wojnar tried to score, Mohawk first baseman Hannah Morrow fired home for the putout to send the game to extra innings.
The unsung hero for the Lancers was Moretti. She came in to start the third inning, relieving Edwards.
Moretti gave up a run in the third that gave the Warriors a 5-1 lead but slammed the door after that. She got out of jams when center fielder Scanga made a shoestring catch to end the seventh, and when Babincak caught a liner at short in the eighth.
“If I could buy Haliey a Ferrari, I would,” Taliani said with a laugh. “She had a little deer accident last week and banged her car up.”
Mohawk had 13 hits.
“After we got the lead, we fought hard but hit balls right at somebody,” Beatty said. “It's disappointing for the girls.”
George Guido is a freelance writer.