ShareThis Page

Deer Lakes softball rallies from 7-0 deficit to advance to championship

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 12:18 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Deer Lakes' Hannah Blinn, Sarah Blinn and Sierra Sarver celebrate a line-drive catch made by Sarah Blinn on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at North Allegheny High School.

Call it “The Rally on Route 19,” or, “The Miracle in McCandless.”

One of the most stirring comebacks in Deer Lakes softball history won't soon be forgotten.

But Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani will remember his team's amazing semifinal victory at North Allegheny as the most unexpected birthday gift he's ever received.

Icing on the cake, no doubt.

Deer Lakes overcame a seven-run deficit and two hours' worth of weather delays to defeat Beaver, 11-7, and advance to the WPIAL Class AA championship game for the second straight season. The defending-champion and top-seeded Lancers (18-0) play No. 3 Riverside (18-0) at 2 p.m. next Thursday at California (Pa.) University.

“What a present,” Taliani said. “Given the circumstances, the wait and what was at stake, that's the greatest comeback I've ever seen. Our girls have that championship mentality and never cease to amaze me.”

Not accustomed to having to play from behind, potent Deer Lakes trailed, 7-0, and was hitless in the top of the third inning when thunder and lightning forced officials to call everyone off the field and out of the stands.

After a 93-minute delay that had both teams confined to their buses, Deer Lakes sent 13 batters to the plate and scored eight runs on six hits to take an 8-7 lead after three innings.

“Our attitude changed,” said Deer Lakes pitcher Tiffany Edwards, who did not allow a hit after the delay and retired 14 of 15 batters, including 13 in a row. “I know what these ladies are capable of,” “It was only the third inning; we weren't worried.”

When Deer Lakes finally got to bat again after play resumed, Maureen Hutchinson led off with a double, and Leanne Crawford's sacrifice scored her.

“Our girls were like angry bears coming out of hibernation,” Taliani said. “Maureen started us off.”

Becca Babincak reached on a bunt single, and Katie Gozzard walked. With the bases loaded, Edwards singled in a run, Sierra Sarver ripped a two-run double, and Hannah Blinn followed with a two-run triple to get the Lancers to within 7-6.

An infield single by Courtney Lubick tied the score, 7-7, and another by Rachel Tanilli gave Deer Lakes the lead.

“This team knows how to pull from the bottom,” Blinn said. “We're the champs, and we had to prove it.”

Deer Lakes players laughed, listened to music and bounced around on the bus during the delay — not the look of a somewhat-punchless team down, 7-0.

The delay had the opposite effect on Beaver (12-7), the No. 13 seed that hoped to add Deer Lakes to its upset trail. The Bobcats came unraveled.

The Lancers added two runs in the fifth on an RBI-single by Huthinson and on an error with the bases full.

In the sixth, Hutchinson reached on an error, which allowed Sarver to score to make it 11-7.

“Comeback of a lifetime,” Sarver said.

The Bobcats looked in control when pitcher Casey Farkasovsky hit a two-run homer in the first and Bella Valent added a three-run triple in the second for the 7-0 advantage.

There also was a 30-minute delay because of lightning in the top of the second.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.