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Kittanning girls record much-needed victory

Jan Pakler | For the Leader Times
Kittanning senior Courtney Edwards pitches for the Wildcats during a game Tuesday, April 23, at Highlands.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

Kittanning used small ball to capture a big softball win.

Courtney Edwards allowed three hits over seven innings, and the Wildcats turned in an efficient offensive performance to remain in the thick of the Section 5-AAA playoff race with a 6-1 win at Highlands.

Nellie Toy was 3 for 4 with two RBI for Kittanning (4-5, 4-4), which scored in five of the seven innings with a combination of effective sacrifices and timely base hits.

Holly Penn drove in the only run of the game for Highlands (4-4, 4-4).

“We played small ball today, which is what we have to do sometimes to get runs in,” Kittanning coach Tom Emminger said.

“Courtney pitched a one-run game, and the lower part of our batting order threw in some base hits and did their part today.”

Cassie Merryman scored runs for Kittanning in the second and fourth innings after advancing on sacrifice bunts by Emily Kutch.

Those bunts put Merryman in position to be driven in by Mary Connolly and Maggie McCanna, the Wildcats' No. 8 and 9 hitters.

In the fifth, Nicole Johnston advanced to third and then scored after tagging up on back-to-back fly balls by Edwards and Georgie Shoop as Kittanning continued to be productive with its outs.

Merryman added an RBI single in the inning to increase the lead to 5-1.

Edwards, meanwhile, kept the Rams off-balance with her pitching, finishing with seven strikeouts. Highlands had only one hard hit ball off her the whole game, a second-inning, two-out double into the gap by Alexis Pesci.

“The last couple of games, we've been in a real funk hitting,” Highlands coach Mike Zendarski said.

“The first time we faced (Edwards), we chased her out of the game. Today, we were chasing her pitches. A lot of them were out of the strike zone, and we were getting behind in the count, and that's trouble for us.”

The win by Kittanning puts both teams in a tie for second in the section, but with all six teams in the section alive in the playoff hunt entering Wednesday's games, the final two section dates are critical for every team.

Last season, five of the six qualified for the playoffs as a result of a four-team tie for second with 5-5 section records, but both coaches would like to see their team finish above .500 this time around.

“Our girls' backs were against the wall. We had to win today, and now we've still got a shot,” Emminger said. “This game reminds me of last year. We had to win at Valley, and we went on the road, got that win and went on to the playoffs.”

“In this section, if you don't show up to play, you're going to get beaten,” Zendarski said. “Last year was an example of that, and then our last two games (this year), we didn't come to hit, and we kind of got what we deserved.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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