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Frazier edges shorthanded Vincentian in opening round

| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier pitcher Andrea Lash delivers to a Vincentian batter during their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Lash struck out five and hit two doubles as Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier base runner Alexus Eicher collides with Vincentian catcher Kelsey Hunter while scoring a run during the third inning of their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier base runner Brittany Strothers steals third base as Vincentian shortstop Mary Mazur (28) looks for the throw during the fourth inning of their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier base runner Alexus Eicher scores the eventual winning run as Vincentian catcher Kelsey Hunter walks away during the fifth inning of their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier pitcher Andrea Lash delivers to a Vincentian batter during their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Lash struck out five and hit two doubles as Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier pitcher Andrea Lash throws out Vincentian's Kaitelyn Donnelly from her knees in the fifth inning during their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Lash struck out five and hit two doubles as Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier pitcher Andrea Lash delivers to a Vincentian batter during their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Lash struck out five and hit two doubles as Frazier won the game, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Vincentian shortstop Mary Mazur (28) catches a fly ball as Frazier base runner Alexis Livingstone passes by during their WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier infielders Brittany Strothers (left) and Hannah Kline celebrate their 3-2 victory over Vincentian in the WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Frazier players celebrate their 3-2 victory over Vincentian in the WPIAL Class A opening-round playoff softball game Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Hempfield High School in Fort Allen. Frazier defeated Vincentian, 3-2.

Frazier was favored to win its first round WPIAL Class A playoffs game against Vincentian.

After all, the Royals had only nine players on the team, three of whom had never played softball before this season, and the game was slated for Hempfield where the Commodores had won postseason games the previous two years.

It didn't come easy, but thanks to a tie-breaking fifth-inning RBI double from Andrea Lash, the fourth-seeded Commodores (17-2) came away with a tight, 3-2, victory over No. 13 Vincentian to move into the quarterfinals. Frazier will play No. 12 Shenango (15-6) Monday or Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.

It was the team's seventh consecutive victory and 14th in its last 15.

“I knew that I wanted to get up there and get a nice hit,” Lash said. “We needed to start something off that inning, and I wanted to get up there and put it into play.”

Alexus Eicher led off the fifth with a single and gave Lash, who also doubled in the first inning, an opportunity with a runner on base. After she fell into a 1-2 hole, Lash slammed a doubled into the left-center-field gap to score Eicher with what turned out to be the winning run.

“I knew they had some hitters, and they were going to score some runs, but I knew what we had to do and, obviously, we didn't do it,” Frazier coach Paul Harvey said. “You've got to come up with a big hit every now and then, and our 3-4 hitters (Lash and Alexis Livingstone) did, but outside of that we didn't do much.”

Leading, 1-0, Frazier had a golden opportunity to blow the game open in the top of the third when it loaded the bases with no one out. But Vincentian pitcher Kim Corcoran got Livingstone to ground into a 5-2-3 double play and surrendered the only run in the inning on an error.

Vincentian (8-6) tied the score, 2-2, with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the third as one run scored on an error and the other on an illegal pitch by Lash when she was attempting to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Danielle Melvin. The Royals might have been able to take the lead in the third were it not for a baserunning mistake, when one of the team's inexperienced players left third base early on a deep fly ball to left.

“Without her being here, we wouldn't even have a team,” Vincentian coach Joe Baczek said. “She was a tennis player.”

Though the team was shorthanded, Vincentian still had an opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, when Danny Schneider singled and stole second with no one out. But Lash struck out the next two hitters and closed the game with a slow roller to short.

“It was the bottom of the batting order, and those are the girls that had never played softball before, but we got here with them, so there's no complaints about that,” Baczek said. “The girls have been short with injuries since midseason, and we literally had to go through the school and beg girls to play. I can't holler at them because we're glad they're here, and they played with a lot of heart and I'm proud of them.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kbarnes@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.

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