Slam carries Greensburg Salem girls over Highlands in playoffs
Greensburg Salem's softball team didn't waste much time getting on the team bus after a furious finish Thursday.
The players and coaches hugged family members and fans, then quickly dispersed.
That made two great escapes for the top-seeded Golden Lions, who avoided a major upset in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs by holding off No. 16 seed Highlands, 6-5, at Plum.
Freshman left fielder Maggie Kallock made sure the Golden Lions (18-2) played on, adding to the program's highlight reel with a rousing grand slam in the top of the seventh.
Kallock, who recently moved from ninth to sixth in the batting order, turned on a pitch with the bases full and Greensburg Salem trailing, 3-2.
“I went up there knowing I had to do something with the bases loaded and one out,” Kallock said. “I was talking to myself. I wanted to hit the top of the ball. I have been working on turning on it.”
Karly Mellinger, Taylor Mehan and star pitcher Jayne Oberdorf all singled to set the table for Kallock, who made it 6-3 with one swing.
“She talked me into moving her up in the order,” Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. “We didn't want to bunt in that last inning.”
Its pulse still going strong, Highlands (8-7) fought back as Holly Penn ripped a two-run single with two outs in the home half of the seventh to cut it to 6-5.
Highlands managed four hits in the seventh against Oberdorf, a Marist recruit, but the standout right-hander got Danielle Voytko to ground out with two runners on to end the game.
“I couldn't be more proud of our girls; it was an unbelievable effort,” Highlands coach Mike Zendarski said. “No one gave us a chance in this game except the 12 girls in that dugout and the coaches. We had them against the ropes. You can't ask for much more.”
Highlands had help early, scoring three unearned runs in the third, one coming on an illegal pitch by Oberdorf and two more on errors. All of the scoring came with two outs.
“We needed a break like that,” Zendarski said. “That inspired us a little.”
It didn't inspire the Golden Lions.
“We gave them all of those unearned runs, and I think we were a little shell-shocked,” Morgan said.
“Highlands is a dangerous team. We get 15 hits and leave a bunch of runners on. We hit well but made some uncharacteristic mistakes.”
Mehan, who went 3 for 4, had an RBI single and Claire Oberdorf drove in a run with a double to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Jayne Oberdorf gave up seven hits and struck out eight, adding to her WPIAL-leading total of 189 for the season.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.