Leechburg softball clinches playoff berth for 27th consecutive year
Tuesday turned out to be a banner day for the Leechburg softball team.
Not only did the Blue Devils solidify their 27th consecutive WPIAL playoff berth, but also the team won its 20th section title in the past 30 seasons with a 6-1 victory over Riverview at Riverside Park.
A four-run sixth inning and senior Kenzie Young's 11-strikeout complete game carried the day.
Sophomore Miranda Reesman had three singles with three RBI, and Lindsey Rowe reached base four times and scored three runs.
Leechburg (10-2, 10-2) can do no worse than to share the Section 3-A title with Jeannette, which also has two losses.
“It's incredible,” Young said of the playoff streak. “There's been so many good players coming through here, and it's awesome to be part of one of those teams. I watched all these great Leechburg softball players growing up and now it's finally our turn.”
Riverview (8-5, 7-3) remains alive for the third and final playoff spot from Section 3-A. The Raiders play a make-up game at Vincentian on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and finish the regular season at Springdale on Thursday.
Riverview, which beat Vincentian, 13-4, in their first meeting this season, needs one more win to clinch a postseason spot despite having only one senior on the roster.
“We're young. We start eight underclassmen,” Riverview coach Larry Kumar said. “We've notoriously had one bad inning every game. Today, it came back to bite us.”
With the score knotted at 1-1 in the top of the sixth, Rowe reached base on an error and reached second as Young's fly ball dropped into right centerfield.
Reesman then singled home Rowe, and Marissa George followed with a single to load the bases. Shelby Greece's two-run single made it 4-1, and a bunt by Monica Emricko was overthrown at first, scoring another run.
“This is a good group of kids,” Leechburg coach Jim Oberdorf said. “We only have two seniors and two juniors. The rest are freshmen and sophomores. They're doing well.”
Raiders freshman Candice Ashbaugh (5-1) was pressed into action when Hannah Larkin developed a sore arm. Ashbaugh limited Leechburg to a run and three hits before the decisive sixth inning.
The Blue Devils had threatened to take the lead in the first inning.
Rowe, the game's second batter, hit an single that glanced off Ashbaugh's protective forehead strip of her helmet.
Reesman followed with an infield single off first baseman Larkin's glove. But second baseman Rachel Condron backed up Larkin and fired home to catch Rowe trying to score from second.
Riverview had taken a 1-0 lead when Leah Sero walked to open the third and scored on Larkin's triple to deep center.
George Guido is a freelance writer.