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Connellsville softball knocks off playoff-bound Mt. Pleasant

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 7:42 p.m.
Lori Padilla | for the Daily Courier
Connellsville's Kara Butler slides into second base while Mt. Pleasant shortstop Paige Hertzog tries to catch the ball during a nonsection game Thursday, May 2, 2013, at Mt. Pleasant.

Connellsville's softball team didn't qualify for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs this season, but the Falcons are intent on trying to finish their season on a positive note.

On Thursday, Connellsville scored early and often on its way to a 9-6 nonsection win over host Mt. Pleasant, a team that has locked up a spot in the Class AAA postseason.

“It's for pride,” Connellsville coach Tom Nickelson said. “We're still a team that is learning, but we're still going to go out there and play the game the way it is supposed to be played. I'm proud of them.”

For the Vikings (11-7), a fast start wasn't a positive omen. After taking a 3-0 lead in the first, Mt. Pleasant surrendered a five-run second and a three-run third as Connellsville grabbed an 8-3 lead. The Falcons (7-8) pounded out nine hits and were assisted by three Mt. Pleasant errors during the eight-run rally.

“I don't know what happened to us in those first few innings,” Mt. Pleasant coach Monica Cox said. “We did things we don't normally do, so that is concerning. But then we started playing the way we normally do. We'd like to have gotten a win against a Quad-A team.”

The Vikings' Kayla Queer delivered a two-run single in the first, but the Falcons came back in the second as Kara Butler, Jess Secrest, Amanda Dewitt and Alyssa Orndorff each singled and scored. Connellsville pitcher Emily Keslar helped herself by ripping a double and scoring. Kelsi Burkholder capped the inning with a two-run single. In the third, Butler and Dewitt each singled and scored as did Keslar, who knocked in a run with her second double of the game.

Mt. Pleasant climbed back into the game when Jade Tressler belted a two-run homer to right before Sadie Paul made it 8-6 with a run-scoring single. But in the fifth, Keslar again came through offensively with an RBI groundout that plated Butler, who finished with three singles and three runs scored.

Mt. Pleasant pitcher Ashley Pospisil managed to keep Connellsville off the board in the final two innings, which allowed her team to stay in the game. But Keslar finished strong, giving up just two singles and no runs over the final four innings to seal the victory for the Falcons.

For Connellsville, it was a satisfying win.

“We watched the playoffs slip away, but they're going out there and playing their hearts out,” Nickelson said. “That's what I'm looking for.”

Connellsville will conclude its season with a home game against Laurel Highlands on Friday.

For the Vikings, the playoffs are on the horizon, but Cox knows her team must be better later in the month than what it was Thursday.

“We threw the ball around,” Cox said. “I don't know where are heads were.”

Mt. Pleasant plays a nonsection game at Franklin Regional on Monday.

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