Riverside's Wilson limits Ligonier Valley to 1 hit in quarterfinal victory
Though it's still early June, Ligonier Valley was worried about snowballing on Friday afternoon.
The concern proved to be valid, as a series of Rams errors and Riverside hits led to a 13-0 Panthers victory in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at Woodland Hills.
The game was halted after the fifth inning due to the 10-run rule.
Riverside (21-0), a six-time WPIAL champion, will move on to the semifinal round Monday against the winner of Saturday's Deer Lakes/Philipsburg-Osceola game at a time and site to be determined.
Ligonier Valley, the District 6 runner-up, concluded its season 17-4.
Riverside had a 3-0 advantage after three innings, but scored five runs in each of the next two innings with a combination of nine hits and five Ligonier errors.
“There was one hit after another and, then when you lose your focus and your concentration, then it became easier and easier for them,” Rams coach Mark Zimmerman said. “We started out getting them three-up and three-down, everything looked pretty good, then it started to snowball and you make one mistake after another.”
Riverside sent 10 batters to the plate in both the fourth and fifth innings. The big hits in the final inning were a double by Cassie Barker and a triple by Natalie Pritts.
“There were a lot of hits into the gaps, too,” Panthers coach Pam McCarty said. “I was real happy with the way the girls were hitting. We had to work on our hitting because we knew this was a team we had to beat. We worked off the tees and did a lot of hitting and were prepared.”
Pritts had three hits and reached base on an error, scoring four runs for the Panthers.
While Riverside was scoring in bunches, Kirsten Wilson was pitching yet another gem.
She retired the first seven batters until her throwing error on a comebacker allowed Jeanie Markosky to reach second base.
In the fourth, Wilson retired Ligonier Valley on just three pitches.
The Rams' only hit was a bouncer by Rachel Wallace that traveled, perhaps, 25 feet down the first base line.
“That girl does a nice job,” Zimmerman said of Wilson. “That team did a nice job hitting the ball and hat's off to them, I wish them the best.”
Wilson struck out six and let her fielders do the rest.
“We were concerned about the first four batters in the order,” McCarty said. “I've been saying all year if it wouldn't be for the defense behind Kirsten, she couldn't be so relaxed when she's pitching. She knows if they hit the ball, the defense will be there.”
Even with the loss, Zimmerman was pleased with how the season transpired.
“I thought this team over-achieved a little bit,” Zimmerman said. “With the girls we had lost (to graduation), I thought we'd have a little bit of an uphill battle in some key spots, but they played well.”
Ligonier Valley will lose starters Markosky, Maddy Grimm, Jackie Berry, Breane Wallace, Courtney Lear and pitcher Hailey Umbaugh.
George Guido is a freelance writer.