Kittanning softball team wins but misses out on playoffs
Home wins have been hard to come by for the Kittanning softball team. As it turned out, one wasn't quite enough.
Georgie Shoop's two-out RBI double in the fifth inning was the difference, and the Wildcats got their first home win in six tries this season, 2-1, over Indiana. But when Tuesday's remaining section scores came in, the win wasn't enough for Kittanning to secure a spot in the WPIAL postseason.
Kittanning (6-6, 5-5) finished in a four-team tie for second place in Section 5-AAA, but it came up short on head-to-head tiebreakers according to the tiebreaking procedures outlined on the WPIAL website.
Hampton, with the best record in games played among the four tied teams (4-2), grabbed the second playoff spot behind first-place Mars. That removed Hampton from the tiebreaker and left Highlands, Kittanning and Knoch to compare head-to-head records for the final spot.
Highlands gained the edge there with a 3-1 record, compared with 2-2 for Kittanning and 1-3 for Knoch.
That the Wildcats would get left out of the playoffs after winning a game that was presumed to be win-and-in came as a shock to veteran coach Tom Emminger as he and his players walked off the field thinking they had qualified.
“All the teams that are 5-5 should make it,” Emminger said. “I can't see how you take some teams that are 5-5 and leave other ones out, especially when we've beaten every team that we're tied with once. It just doesn't make any sense.”
That the tiebreakers fall against Kittanning stings doubly after the Wildcats turned in an outstanding defensive performance to win their section finale.
Shoop, a junior right fielder, also scored the other run for Kittanning on an error. Courtney Edwards pitched seven innings of four-hit ball in front the Wildcats' defense.
“We have been getting ahead in games and kind of falling apart at the end,” Shoop said. “But today, we were good. Our defense was pretty solid today.”
“This was our third great defensive game in a row. We beat Highlands up there, lost to Mars in 13 innings, and now we get a 2-1 win that we had to have,” Emminger said. “Courtney gave us seven good innings again, and we got the timely hits we needed to win.”
Indiana (7-7, 3-7), which still had an outside chance of reaching the playoffs with a win before the game began, received six innings with only one earned run allowed from pitcher Adrian Smith.
Briana Dillon put Indiana ahead with an RBI single in the top of the second inning. But Kittanning tied the game in the bottom half after a leadoff single by Shoop, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a throwing error by Indiana.
The score stayed 1-1 until Shoop stepped up in the fifth with runners on first and second. Shoop turned on a pitch and dropped it into the left-center field gap, which brought home Nellie Toy from second for the winning run.
“I think it was a fastball. It was right down the middle,” Shoop said. “I wasn't going to swing on that pitch at first, but then I had to quickly when I saw it.”
That run was enough after the Kittanning defense came up big in the sixth. After Indiana's Dana Piper reached base on an error, the Wildcats ended the threat with their second inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
“They're all leaders out there. That's what's great about this group,” Emminger said. “They all work so well with each other, and they've worked hard to get where they are.”