Canon-McMillan advances to title game on walk-off single
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Giorgianna Zeremenko lived a dream ... well, almost.
With two on, two out and the count full in the bottom of the seventh inning, Canon-McMillan's sophomore catcher smacked a walk-off single to right to lift the No. 5 Big Macs over top-seeded Shaler, 4-3, in a WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal Thursday at Fairhaven Park in Kennedy.
The victory sends Canon-McMillan (15-5) to the WPIAL title game for the first time, where it will meet No. 2 Hempfield (18-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday at California (Pa.).
School history was on the line when Zeremenko came to the plate in the final inning. It's a situation many might dream about, and Zeremenko said she did the night before, albeit with one alteration.
“In my dream, it was a home run,” Zeremenko said. “But that's OK. This works, too.”
Morgan Russo hit two solo home runs for Shaler (19-3), and Lauren Hackett's solo shot to center off Alayna Astuto in the top of the sixth tied the game, 3-3.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Shaler pitcher Sydney Smyers had retired nine straight batters and made it 10 when Tara Fowler grounded out for the first out.
Tara Schram, Canon-McMillan's No. 9 hitter, then hit a bloop single, and Maddie Engle had two-out single. That put runners on first and third for Zeremenko, who had hit three home runs in the Big Macs' previous two playoff wins but was hitless in her first three plate appearances yesterday.
Nonetheless, Zeremenko's liner to right field brought Schram home, and the Canon-McMillan dugout erupted in cheers.
“No Canon-Mac softball team has been to the WPIAL championship or even made states, so this is for the record books for them,” Canon-McMillan coach Michelle Moeller said. “I'm real proud of these guys and what they were able to do, and to do it in that fashion at the end, that says a lot about their tenacity, as well.”
Shaler, meanwhile, lost in the semifinals for the second straight season, perhaps with some extra emotion this year. Shaler coach Skip Palmer's wife, Judy, passed away last weekend after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in March.
“These kids are unbelievable. They have been my strength through this whole thing,” Palmer said. “These kids would never give up, ever. We just never really hit the ball. We only had four or five hits, that was it. You're not going to win a lot of games with four or five hits, and today, they were better than us.”
Smyers yielded nine hits to Canon-McMillan, the longest of which capped a three-run third. After Engel scored on a bobbled grounder to short, Olivia Lorusso hit a two-run homer.
The Big Macs' offense wasn't as potent in their 1-0 win over Hempfield early in the year, but Moeller expects better in the rematch.
“Hempfield's a quality team,” Moeller said. “We got better hitting. They got better hitting. Everybody has upped their game as you go through this, so it's going to be a quality matchup.”
Pat Mitsch is a freelance writer.
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.
- Comeau’s hat trick leads Penguins; Crosby reaches career points
- Fatal crash closes Flight 93 chapel in Somerset County
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Pregnant woman struck by van in North Side dies; doctors save baby
- Starkey: Rutherford will add when timing’s right
- Pitt plays best game of the season; routs Kansas State
- Police on hunt for suspects in unrelated Penn Township, Manor cases
- Sewickley mom, dad thankful for ‘incredible’ support since son’s death
- Western Pa. business owners urge shoppers to think small
- Pirates notebook: Autographs to come at a cost at PirateFest