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Home run lifts South Side Beaver girls over Leechburg

| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 9:42 p.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg's Lindsey Rowe (left) cheers on her teammates during a WPIAL Class A opening-round softball playoff game Thursday, May 16, 2013 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg catcher Monica Emricko makes a play in front of the plate during a WPIAL Class A opening-round softball playoff game Thursday, May 16, 2013 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Leechburg pitcher Kenzie Young goes through her delivery to the plate during a WPIAL Class A opening-round softball playoff game Thursday, May 16, 2013 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
South Side Beaver catcher Dayna Morrow (right) blocks the plate and makes the tag for the out on Leechburg's Lindsey Rowe during a WPIAL Class A opening-round softball playoff game Thursday, May 16, 2013 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
After going through the line and congratulating the South Side Beaver team, Leechburg pitcher Kenzie Young reacts after the teams 1-0 loss in a WPIAL Class A opening-round softball playoff game Thursday, May 16, 2013 at North Allegheny Senior High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
South Side Beaver third baseman Toni Yacoviello puts the tag on Leechburg's Kassidy Horrell to record the out during a WPIAL Class A opening-round softball playoff game Thursday, May 16, 2013 at North Allegheny Senior High School.

One big hit.

That's all South Side Beaver needed Thursday afternoon in an opening round WPIAL Class A softball game against Leechburg at North Allegheny.

Freshman Connor McGaffic's blast over the left-center field fence to lead off the fourth inning accounted for the game's only run as the Rams (14-4) defeated the Blue Devils, 1-0.

South Side Beaver advances to the quarterfinals next Monday against No. 2 seed Burgettstown at a site and time to be determined.

Leechburg's season ends at 11-6.

“It wasn't her first home run; she's a good contact hitter,” said Rams coach Theresa Waxler of McGaffic. “We teach our players to put the ball in play and make the other team get you out.”

Solid fielding was the theme of the day.

Winning pitcher Sarah Androlia struck out just four Blue Devils, and Leechburg's Kenzie Young fanned two Rams.

South Side turned two crucial double plays. Not to be outdone, Leechburg shortstop Miranda Reesman handled nine chances flawlessly.

“I'm not going to complain a bit,” Blue Devils coach Jim Oberdorf said. “I thought we played very well. We couldn't get that one big hit.”

“Our philosophy as coaches has always been to put the ball around the strike zone because of the defense behind us,” Waxler said. “She (Andolia) has a lot of movement on her pitches.”

Leechburg had opportunities to put a rally together as 10 Blue Devils reached base.

In the bottom of the first inning with runners on first and third with one out, Reesman hit a grounder to third and Tori Yacoviello threw to first. Lindsey Rowe headed home, but the relay from first base was perfect, and Rowe slid into the tag at the plate.

In the fourth, lead-off hitter Kassidy Horrell reached second on a two-base error.

With one out, however, Horrell tried to take third on a grounder to short but was thrown out on another perfect relay throw from Rams first baseman Alexis Dhayer.

With Young at first and one out in the sixth, Reesman hit a deep fly to left that fell fair. But Young was unsure if the ball would be caught and could only get to second base.

Leechburg loaded the bases, but Marissa George's fly to left ended the threat.

“Our base running was atrocious all day,” Oberdorf said. “There were occasions when our runners would go back to the base instead of shuffling toward the next base. Give them credit, they made the plays on us.”

Oberdorf was pleased with how the season played out, winning a section with just two seniors, Young and right fielder Mindy McCorkle.

“No doubt about it,” Oberdorf said. “If there's any coach who wouldn't be happy with it, they shouldn't be on the field.”

It was Leechburg's 27th consecutive trip to the WPIAL playoffs.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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