Flawless defense leads Deer Lakes to WPIAL title game
By Bill Beckner Jr.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 10:20 p.m.
Brain freeze never felt so cool.
Deer Lakes celebrated its 2-0 softball semifinal victory over previously unbeaten and top-seeded Neshannock at North Allegheny on Wednesday with a trip to Edwards' Ice Cream, a West Deer business owned by assistant coach Rich Edwards.
The Lancers' durable defense got in a few extra scoops.
Rather than a usually explosive offensive output leading the way, one flawless putout after another propelled Deer Lakes (18-1) into the WPIAL Class AA finals for the first time.
Senior Haliey Moretti pitched a three-hitter, without the benefit of a strikeout, instead leaning on her sure-gloved teammates as No. 4 Deer Lakes advanced to face No. 7 Greensburg Central Catholic (14-6) in the Class AA title game.
Deer Lakes also secured its first PIAA playoff berth.
“I am completely confident they will make plays,” Moretti said of her defense. “No worries at all.”
The championship is set for May 31 at California (Pa.) University. It will mark the third straight year an Alle-Kiski Valley team has appeared in the Class AA finals.
Greensburg Central eliminated Deer Lakes in last year's semifinals, 6-2, and lost to Burrell, 3-1, in the final.
Neshannock fell to 19-1 and can make the state playoffs if it beats Riverside in the WPIAL third-place game.
“It's amazing to know we made history for Deer Lakes,” senior center fielder Candace Scanga said. “It'll still be hard to believe, though, until we're actually there.”
Both Lancers' runs came in the bottom of the first, thanks to RBI by sophomore first baseman C.C. Sarver and junior catcher Hannah Blinn.
Second baseman Katie Gozzard doubled off the top of the fence and later scored on Sarver's single to right. Blinn followed with her 13th consecutive hit, a sharp double to make it 2-0.
Blinn added another double later and finished 2 for 3, as did Sarver.
“I was really impressed with how focused the girls were,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “I mean, from the time they got on the bus, it was all business.
“This team is locked in right now, but we still have one more mile to go.”
Moretti, who forced 13 flyouts, retired nine of the game's final 10 batters.
“It was important for us to get some runs on the board early,” Moretti said. “We told ourselves that's what we needed to do.”
Neshannock appeared to score a run in the third, but Rachel Iorio left third base early on a tag attempt on Marissa DeMatteo's sacrifice fly, and Iorio was called out and the run negated.
Freshman Madison Shaffer had two hits for Neshannock, which also lost to Deer Lakes last season in the first round.
Both teams have young rosters with a combined three seniors.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Elizabeth growth
- Gubernatorial candidate touches base
- Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Penn State’s Franklin cherishes memories of time spent in Pittsburgh
- LaBar: WWE’s next stars have arrived
- Pirates reserve outfielder Dickerson is also at home on soccer pitch
- Pirates notebook: Volquez, Morton struggle