WPIAL softball notebook: Sarver's near home run a play of the game
In what could be called the biggest play of the WPIAL Class AA title game, Deer Lakes' Sierra Sarver hit a drive to deep right-center field in the top of the sixth that would have tied the game.
With her team in front, 3-1, Riverside right fielder Andrea Lippman went back to make the catch, as her glove eclipsed the fence.
“I wasn't aware it was going over the fence until I actually caught it,” Lippman said. “It would have been a game-changer, so I did everything in my utmost to catch it.”
Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani got a good view of the shot from the third base coach's box.
“Her glove was above the fence line — she saved a home run,” Taliani said. “Hats off to Andrea, they made defensive plays when they needed to.”
The Lancers went hitless until the sixth inning, but they weren't worried.
Last year in the title game against Greensburg Central Catholic, Centurions pitcher Anna Marie Gatti held Deer Lakes hitless into the fifth before the Lancers came from behind to win.
In Thursday's fifth inning, Hannah Blinn hit a soft fly that looked to be headed for short center field. But Brooke Barker went out to make a fine catch.
The next batter, Courtney Lubick, hit a pop up near home plate.
Panthers catcher Nicole Mansfield flipped her glove palms upward at the last moment to make the catch.
Had the ball dropped, it would have landed in fair territory.
The Lancers will enter the PIAA tournament Monday against District 10 champion Fairview.
The game will be played somewhere in District 10 territory at a time and site to be determined.
Fairview's assistant principal may look familiar to Deer Lakes players and fans. He's Justin Zona, who served as the Lancers baseball coach during his Deer Lakes tenure.
Fairview won the District 10 crown on Memorial Day with a 2-1 victory in the ninth inning against Harbor Creek.
With a runner at first, Fairview coach Anita Deloe gave Aubree Martin the bunt sign.
Martin called time and went down the third-base line and talked Deloe out of a bunt.
Martin then proceeded to hit a walk-off single.
Deer Lakes sophomore reserve Ali Barthel nearly missed the title game due to a family vacation — a cruise that went awry just off the Florida coast.
Barthel was on the Carnival Sensation ship that caught fire Monday en route to Coco Cay in the Bahamas.
The cruise returned to shore early, allowing Barthel to join the team for its trip to California (Pa.).
“They woke everyone up and gave us life jackets,” Barthel said. “Then we got into life boats. It was scary. Most people were freaking out, but I tried to stay calm.”
Deer Lakes was trying to become the school's first team to repeat as a WPIAL champion since the boys volleyball team won back-to-back titles in 1978 and '79.
Those teams were coached by Rick Tatrn, who is still the school's volleyball coach.
George Guido is a freelance writer.