Serra's playoff run ends with loss to Neshannock
Defending PIAA Class A champion and top-seeded Neshannock showed no ill effects from a 16-day layoff in Monday afternoon's WPIAL quarterfinal.
The Lancers jumped on Serra Catholic (11-7) for seven runs in the first inning and rolled to a 14-0 victory at McIntyre Field in Ross Township.
The game was halted after 4½ innings by the 10-run rule.
Neshannock (16-2), which received a first-round bye, will play Frazier in a semifinal contest Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
Serra, a winner in last week's opening-round encounter against Bishop Canevin, was hoping to break through against sophomore right-hander Madison Shaffer in the top of the first.
Haley Havrilla opened with a walk, and Allie Taylor was hit by a pitch. Both girls moved up on a wild pitch, giving Serra runners at second and third. But Shaffer struck out Amy McNeill, got Morgan Willaman on a fly to right field and retired Nicole Jezerski attempting to bunt for a base hit.
Rayanna Faust led off the Lancers first with a single. Jamie Graziani sacrificed Faust to second. Marissa DeMatteo tripled past left fielder Gia Husnick, and the scoring barrage was under way.
With Neshannock in front, 3-0, a two-out, a bases-loaded triple by freshman Marissa Kirkwood made it 6-0.
“If you look at the first inning, there were three errors,” Eagles coach Mike Elko said. “It's the first time we were shut out the whole year, but we got runners on second and third and couldn't get them in from scoring position.”
“When ninth-graders move into our program, we expect them to be players,” Lancers coach Tracey Kimmel said. “They're not ninth-graders to me.”
Serra's Husnick singled in the second, stole second base and was bunted to third. Shaffer, however, ended the threat a strikeout.
The Lancers batted around again in the second, scoring five runs. Katy Burrelli slammed a home run, and Ally Fischer tripled to chase Serra starter Samantha Andrekanic.
Elko thought he got considerable mileage from a team with one senior starter.
“This is a great group of kids — I love coaching them,” Elko said. “I can't wait until next year. I'll miss my senior catcher, Haley Havrilla, but will have eight other starters back. I think we'll be reckoned with next year.”
For Neshannock, Madison's eight strikeouts Monday gave her 147 in just 76 innings.
“Maddie's done a fine job for us this year,” Kimmel said. “She was in the background last year because we had a senior pitcher, but we knew what she's capable of doing.”
George Guido is a freelance writer.