Walk-off single leads Elizabeth Forward to championship game
By Keith Barnes
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 7:26 p.m.
Elizabeth Forward is making such a habit out of late-inning come-from-behind playoff victories that it's beginning to seem commonplace.
Then again, there was nothing ordinary about what the Warriors did to Greensburg Salem on Wednesday in the WPIAL Class AAA softball semifinals. Not by a long shot.
Junior catcher Virginia Roche broke up a no-hit bid by Greensburg Salem starter Jayne Oberdorf when she slapped a bases-loaded single to center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh to score two runs and give ninth-seeded Elizabeth Forward a 2-1 walk-off victory over the No. 4 Golden Lions at California (Pa.) University's Lilley Field.
“I was just watching the ball, hoping to get that meatball down the middle and drive it somewhere,” Roche said. “Then it happened.”
It was the second consecutive game in which the Warriors came from behind late to win. Elizabeth Forward trailed top-seeded Ambridge by three before using a six-run fifth inning for a 7-4 win Monday in the quarterfinals.
Elizabeth Forward (17-6) will return to Lilley Field to play Montour in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game May 31 at a time to be determined and has also earned a spot in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
“We've been coming back all year long and having some great games,” Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said. “We've been stroking the ball well ... and for her to hold us down all the way to the last batter in the seventh inning, you can't say enough about that pitcher.”
Roche's walk-off single ruined what had been a masterpiece for Oberdorf. The junior right-hander was staked to a 1-0 lead on an unearned run against Warriors starter Portia McBride in the second inning and had only allowed one baserunner through the first six.
“That girl is a gamer and, in the semifinals in Triple-A, I would never say anything against that kid, even if she walked 20,” Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. “We played a great game for six innings, but the intangibles, you can't control, and that's how I'm looking at it. There were just some things we couldn't control, and I'll leave it at that.”
Oberdorf's only mistake up to that point was a four-pitch, third-inning walk to second baseman Jen Welsh. She had also struck out 11 and only allowed one ball to leave the infield — a first inning pop-out to center field — before struggling in the seventh.
“We went into that inning and I told them they've been swinging at bad pitches and nobody is allowed to swing the bat until they get one strike on them,” Rutherford said. “We needed baserunners and we needed to shake her up, so I had everybody taking until I told them they could swing.”
That quick philosophical change obviously rattled Oberdorf, who walked pinch hitter Katie Shinavski to start the inning and, after Jen Keefer re-entered the game as a pinch runner, Kelsey Havel bunted the runner to second to put the tying run in scoring position. Oberdorf then hit McKenna Kern on an 0-2 pitch and, after she was replaced by pinch runner Jessica Guffey, Caitlyn Arico took a four-pitch walk to load the bases.
Then up came Roche, who worked the count to 2-2 and fouled off a couple pitches to the first-base side before lining a single over second base and into center field. Alyssa Mellinger got to the ball quickly for Greensburg Salem, but both Keefer and Guffey scored to give the Warriors the win.
Greensburg Salem still has an opportunity to extend its season; it will play Belle Vernon on Tuesday at Lilley Field in the third-place consolation game for a berth in the state tournament.
“They'll be ready, because they want to go to states so bad,” Morgan said. “This was a big step for us this year going to the semifinals, but the kids just wanted this game to go to states.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.
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.
- Steel Valley softball falls to Charleroi
- Knoch softball team strengthened by senior leadership
- Plum softball shortstop hitting nearly .800
- Mars softball team feels at home on the road
- Roundup: EF’s 14-run inning rocks Ringgold
- Connellsville blanks Latrobe, eyes being factor in playoff race
- Chartiers Valley softball team hopes strong start leads to different results
- Twins ‘Gooden’ enough to win as McKeesport edges Plum
- High school roundup: West Allegheny softball earns Section 2 win over Montour
- Charleroi Area girls keep hitting, 11-5
- Greensburg high school roundup: Yough softball defeats Belle Vernon in 10 innings