Seventh-inning rally leads Penn-Trafford past Connellsville
For young softball teams, bad innings are bound to happen. Unfortunately for Connellsville, one of its worst innings of the season came at possibly the worst time.
After rallying with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 4-4, the Falcons surrendered five runs in the top of the seventh Friday, as Penn-Trafford came up with a 9-4 victory in Section 1-AAAA.
The Warriors pounded four hits and benefitted from three Connellsville errors in the decisive seventh inning.
“We battled back, but you have to play a complete seven-inning game,” Connellsville coach Tom Nickelson said. “Penn-Trafford is a good team, and we're young. But we've got great kids. We battled, but we have to dig in and find a little more heart.”
After getting blasted by Norwin, 11-2, on Thursday, the Warriors (6-4, 4-3) were intent on rebounding quickly.
“Coming off the loss we had (Thursday) and not hitting, we knew we had to start hitting and get back in the race,” Penn-Trafford coach Sam Denillo said.
The Warriors banged out 11 hits, including three in the first inning, which helped them claim a 3-0 lead. Ashley Yanniruberto doubled to start the game and scored on a single by Jess Zavolta. Cassie Szymd followed with a two-run homer off Connellsville starter Emily Keslar.
For Szymd, it was the start of a big afternoon. She finished with four hits and four RBI.
“She was a little slow starting out,” Denillo said. “But she is stepping up when we need her to.”
Zavolta added three hits and scored three runs.
Connellsville got one run back in the first on a home run by Kelsi Burkholder. The teams traded runs in the fifth. Zavolta doubled and scored on a double by Szymd, but the Falcons (1-4, 1-4) countered when Amanda Dewitt singled and scored on an error.
Trailing, 4-2, in the sixth, Connellsville rallied as Burkholder ripped a double for her second hit of the game. Jena Bukovac followed with an RBI single, and Jessica Secrest came through with an RBI groundout to tie it 4-4.
The Warriors' Nicole Smith came on in relief of Frankie Ponziani and got the final two outs of the sixth, stranding the go-ahead run at third. Smith was credited with the win thanks to Penn-Trafford's big seventh inning.
In the seventh, the Warriors blew it open by sending nine batters to the plate. With one out, Zavolta, Lexi Ryan and Szymd each singled. Then with two outs, Ponziani doubled in a run. An error allowed another run to score, and two more runs came home on wild pitches.
It was a tough way for Connellsville's late-inning rally to go to waste.
“Those things happen,” Nickelson said. “We have a young team and it's hard. We have a long way to go, but we're going to get there in a hurry.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.