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Walk-off grand slam sends Peters Township to quarterfinals

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 11:06 p.m.

Carly Konopka made up for her walks in the pitcher's circle with a walk-off at the plate.

The Peters Township pitcher hit a game-ending grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday to lift the Indians to an 8-4 victory against Pine-Richland in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA softball playoffs at Baldwin.

Her heroics came after what was a bit of an adventure navigating the Rams' lineup.

The sophomore battled through four tough innings, conceding four earned runs on five hits and five walks. She also hit a pair of batters and left after the fourth with her No. 7-seeded team trailing by a run, 4-3.

“In warmups, I felt like I was doing pretty good, but then I got in the game, and calls just weren't going my way,” Konopka said. “My pitches really weren't doing what they were supposed to do, and I was kind of getting rattled.”

Peters Township coach Bob Bowers turned to pitcher Kellyn Perich in the fifth. She responded by holding Pine-Richland scoreless over the final three innings and striking out five. Pine-Richland coach Patti White said her No. 10-seeded team, which managed just two base runners over the final three innings, struggled with Perich's high pitches.

And the sophomore's dominance paved the way for her teammate's dramatic shot.

After the Indians' Lindsay McKnight tied the score, 4-4, with an RBI triple in the fifth, Konopka took Rams starter Isabella Tortorice deep to right-center field with two outs in last of the seventh. The blast brought relief at the end of what was a difficult day.

“It feels amazing being able to redeem myself and picking my team up and being able to win the game,” Konopka said.

Bowers called Konopka a competitor, noting she wanted to continue pitching before the coach made the change. He also said he was pleased with her performance on the mound, which saw Konopka limit the damage by stranding eight runners on base.

The Rams (9-7), meanwhile, were left to lament those missed opportunities.

“We came back when we had to,” White said of her team, which trailed 3-1 after three innings.

The big hits never came in a pair of bases-loaded situations against Konopka in the second and fourth innings. Pine-Richland stranded 10 runners.

The Indians (17-4) move on to face second-seeded Latrobe in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats had a bye in the first round, and the two teams will meet next Tuesday. After playing as the higher seed Tuesday, Bowers is hopeful his team will respond in the underdog role with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

“We'll do a lot of preparation, and we'll be ready,” Bowers said.

Adam Bittner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at abittner@tribweb.com.

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