ShareThis Page

Elizabeth Forward softball team streaks into semifinals

| Monday, May 21, 2012, 8:48 p.m.
Elizabeth Forward celebrates its 7-4 win over Ambridge Monday at North Allegheny.----Photo by Ronald Vezzani Jr./For the Daily News

Elizabeth Forward was teetering on the brink of elimination in the top of the fourth inning in its WPIAL Class AAA softball quarterfinal against Ambridge.

Junior pitcher Portia McBride appeared rattled after allowing a home run to Bridgers catcher Jaymee Humbert that gave top-seeded Ambridge a three-run lead. In the meantime, Ambridge starting pitcher Hannah Smith had gotten into a groove and had retired the last six Warriors hitters she faced.

Elizabeth Forward needed someone to give the team a spark. Instead, the entire Warriors lineup gave Ambridge a tremendous shock that jolted the Bridgers out of the playoffs.

EF sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth to key a 7-4 victory that moved the No. 9 seed into the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals for the first time since 2008.

“To have a young squad mostly consisting of sophomores, this is a big thing for them because they have no clue what this means,” Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said. “I'm really proud of such a young team to be able to come back against a great Ambridge team.”

It helped that McBride was able to settle in after the Humbert home run. Immediately after the opposite-field shot she walked Smith on four pitches, which prompted a visit from catcher Virginia Roche.

“I was really upset and everything, but I knew I had to calm down and get focused because the team needed me,” McBride said. “I knew that I had a team to back me up, too.”

Elizabeth Forward (16-6) will play Greensburg Salem (15-2), a 5-2 winner over Mars, on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

“They have a great pitcher (junior Jayne Oberdorf) that throws a lot of hard stuff, and we'll prepare for her (Tuesday),” Rutherford said. “We've been hitting good pitchers of late, so I don't think that we'll be overpowered by her. We'll prepare for her as best we can and make her do the damage on us. We intend to do some damage on her.”

To get to that point, Rutherford took a huge chance in that fourth inning that paid off. With runners at first and second with two outs and the score tied, 4-4, in the fourth, he pulled No. 2 batter Jen Keefer for pinch hitter Katie Shinavski.

Keefer was 1 for 2 and scored the team's first run in the top of the first, but Shinavski had a tremendous plate appearance. She worked the count full and fouled off three pitches before she lashed a single to right that scored courtesy runner Jessica Guffey with the go-ahead run.

“I have to give a lot of kudos to Katie Shinavski coming off the bench,” Rutherford said. “Here's a junior who was injured earlier in the season and she's been waiting for her chance, and (she) had great at-bats in practice and (I) just thought it was the right time.”

Designated player Caitlyn Arico, who went 2 for 3, started that inning off with a double and later scored, while third baseman McKenna Kern, who also went 2 for 3, capped it off with a two-run single.

Staked to a three-run cushion, McBride was able to work her way through the sixth and seventh to get the Warriors into the semifinals.

“I was just trying to get through it with no errors,” McBride said. “This is amazing.”

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

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.