Riverside wins 6th WPIAL Class AA softball title
There was no comeback this time for the defending WPIAL champions. Riverside pitcher Kirsten Wilson and right fielder Andrea Lippman made sure of that.
Deer Lakes fell behind in its previous playoff games but rallied for impressive wins. But, in the Class AA championship game Thursday, the Lancers couldn't catch up to Wilson, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before handing Deer Lakes a 5-1 loss at California (Pa.)'s Lilley Field.
Wilson struck out 11 and walked three in a complete-game win.
“I worked my pitches as well as I could, and my defense was great behind me,” said Wilson, who raised her WPIAL-leading strikeout total to 265. “This means so much to us.”
Lippman made a thrilling catch in the sixth to rob Deer Lakes' Sierra Sarver of what might have been a game-tying home run. Instead, the Panthers (19-0) remained unbeaten, celebrating their sixth WPIAL title and first since 2009.
Riverside had its streak of 11 consecutive shutouts end, but the Panthers downed a team that had been ranked No. 1 all season and was averaging better than 11 runs.
“That catch was incredible. It was over the fence, no doubt,” said Riverside coach Pam McCarty, whose team has allowed seven runs all season. “(Lippman) would have crawled over the fence to get that one.
“I didn't realize Deer Lakes had scored a run until the radio guys told me.”
Deer Lakes (18-1) committed four errors and yielded four unearned runs.
“We weren't ourselves today,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “We were all over the field. And we could've done a better job putting the ball in play.”
Deer Lakes had won 24 straight against WPIAL competition.
Riverside jumped on the board early with some help. With the bases loaded and two outs in the first, Morgan McElwain hit a bloop single to shallow right field to drive in one run. A throwing error allowed two more to score for a 3-0 lead.
“Our girls were ready mentally,” McCarty said. “They worked so hard to get here. It takes that kind of focus.”
In the sixth, Katie Gozzard broke up the no-hitter with a sharp single to right, and Tiffany Edwards had an RBI-double for Deer Lakes. Then came Sarver's somewhat-dramatic flyout to deep right-center, which was snagged by Lippman.
“It was gone,” Taliani said.
“The girl made a great catch. They made the plays they had to, and we didn't.”
Riverside added two runs in the sixth, on a fielder's choice and on an error.
Natalie Pritts scored two runs and McElwain went 2 for 3 for Riverside.
Edwards struck out six and allowed five hits.
Before Thursday, Riverside had not allowed a run since April 18.
Both teams advance to the PIAA playoffs, which begin Monday.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.