Edwards leads Deer Lakes to win in PIAA opener
ERIE — Deer Lakes made the long trek to Penn State Behrend on Monday aboard a roomy and comfortable charter bus. To pass the time, most players and coaches watched a movie — the musical comedy, “Pitch Perfect,” a suggestion of senior catcher Hannah Blinn.
But not sophomore pitcher Tiffany Edwards.
“I fell asleep; I saw that movie like 10 times anyways,” Edwards said.
Edwards woke up and put Fairview to bed.
Edwards was efficient in the circle and at the plate as WPIAL runner-up Deer Lakes opened the PIAA Class AA softball playoffs with a crisp, 3-0 win over three-time defending District 10 champion Fairview.
“I wasn't trying to overthrow; I was just trying to hit the glove and hit my spots more,” said Edwards, who threw a complete-game four-hitter against a team that suffered its first loss of the season.
Deer Lakes (19-1), meanwhile, advanced to the quarterfinals for the second straight season and will face Philipsburg-Osceola on Thursday at a time and site to be determined.
Tigers ace pitcher Raven Rozantz struck out 10 but lacked the offensive help Edwards got.
Edwards, who had the lone RBI in a 5-1 loss to Riverside in the WPIAL title game, struck out four and walked two.
“Tiffany was flat-out dealing,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “She only threw 74 pitches. She had four pitches working today that she could have thrown for a strike at any time.”
Edwards ripped a run-scoring triple in the first inning and added another RBI on a groundout in the seventh to put the Lancers ahead, 3-0.
“We know if we play our game we can beat anybody,” Edwards said.
Junior first baseman Sierra Sarver, admittedly still frustrated by her near-game-tying home run that was caught at the fence in the sixth inning of the WPIAL championship, launched a pair of doubles to the fence.
“It was aggravating for sure,” Sarver said of the warning-track shot in the finals. “We all picked it up this game. Tiffany pitched great.”
Freshman outfielder Rachel Tanilli drove in the Lancers' second run with a single in the second. That came after Rozantz was called for the first of two illegal pitches, which allowed Leanne Crawford, who singled, to move to second with two outs.
Tanilli reached on an error in the seventh and later scored on Edwards' grounder.
“We said after (the championship game) that we have 24 hours to get over this (loss),” Taliani said. “Everyone bought into that. We didn't show anything of what we can do in the last game. This was important for them as young ladies to bounce back the way they did.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.