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Deer Lakes softball powers past Burrell

Jan Pakler | Valley News Dispatch
Deer Lakes' Sierra Sarver slides home safely in a win over Burrell on Thursday, March 28, 2014.

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By George Guido
Friday, March 28, 2014, 10:57 p.m.

The Deer Lakes softball team showed Friday why it is favored to make a fourth straight deep run into the WPIAL playoffs.

Deer Lakes, ranked No. 1 in Class AA by Trib Total Media, erupted for seven runs in the third inning and cruised to a 13-6 Section 3 victory over perennial WPIAL playoff contender Burrell at Bon Air Field.

Sierra Sarver blasted two home runs and drove in four Lancers teammates as part of a 14-hit Deer Lakes attack.

Sarver, who has signed with Florida's Rollins College, led off the second inning with a solo shot to center and pulled a two-run homer to left in the fourth. She reached base five times in five plate appearances, including a hit batsman and two walks, and had four RBIs.

“Siera hit the ball well today, then they pitched around her the last couple of times,” Lancers coach Craig Taliani said. “She got us started there. We put the ball in play pretty well.”

“We didn't execute our game plan very well,” Bucs coach Mike Spagnolo said. “First of all, you don't let that first baseman, Sierra, see good pitches and anytime she can extend her arms, she's going to take it out of here. That hurt us.”

One aspect that was particularly pleasing to Taliani was three sacrifice flies, including a pair in the big third inning in a sport where manufactured runs can come into play late in the season.

“We work on that,” Taliani said. “We've been burned on that before, but we executed that well today, and I'm proud of the girls for that.”

Deer Lakes (2-0, 2-0) sent 11 batters to the plate as pitcher Krista York yielded two infield singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. York tried pitching inside to Sarver, but hit the Lancers first baseman to drive in a run.

Sophomore Stephanie Drapela, the No. 9 hitter in the Lancers order, had a two-run single to help put Deer Lakes in the driver's seat.

Junior righthander Tiffany Edwards went the distance, striking out eight.

“At times, Tiff was spot on. Other times, she struggled a little bit with some of her off-speed pitches,” Taliani said. “Every game when you get the ball, you've got to do the best you can, and she does that. She's a fighter, and she doesn't back down.”

Edwards helped her own cause with three singles and two RBIs.One bright spot for Burrell (1-1, 1-1) was right fielder Ashley Szymkowiak, who had a double and two singles.

Spagnolo has had to replace several players from last year's team that went 12-2 in Section 3-AA, losing only to Deer Lakes.

“In this section, there's not many teams that can beat Deer Lakes,” Spagnolo said. “I feel we can compete with them the next time we meet. We're going to, hopefully, have a lot more confidence and we can play a better game.”

Burrell should also be bolstered soon with the return of athletes Jaila Manga and Kelsey Oddis, who had an extensive run with the Burrell basketball team. Both saw action in the late innings Friday.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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