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Steel Valley's Cotter lifts Ironmen to win

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 8:45 p.m.

Steel Valley scored just one run Tuesday, but it was all the Ironmen softball team needed to take over sole possession of first place in Section 4-AA.

Maddie Cotter pitched a two-hitter as visiting Steel Valley beat South Allegheny, 1-0, to move a half-game ahead of idle Charleroi for the top spot.

Cotter held South Allegheny hitless until Jamie D'Angelo's one-out double in the fifth. D'Angelo was injured sliding into second base and was helped from the field. Coach Hal Minford said she would be evaluated for an ankle injury.

“She had a great year last year, and she's come back even stronger this year,” Steel Valley coach Matt Janov said of Cotter, who also beat South Allegheny, 7-6, on April 1.

While that game, too, was a one-run outcome, her performance Tuesday was a gem.

“She does a good job of getting the ball in on your hands,” Minford said. “She locates very well.”

Cotter struck out 10 and walked two, but Steel Valley (7-2, 6-1), which committed four errors, gave South Allegheny (6-3, 4-3) ample chances. The Gladiators, however, were unable to move a runner past second base.

“We were able to get to her for six runs in that last game by playing small ball and being successful at it,” Minford said. “We worked on bunting at practice (Monday), and we were awful. It showed today. We weren't able to do it again.”

Chelsea Rohan's RBI-single in the third inning accounted for the game's only run against South Allegheny left-hander Brenna Pribanic, who gave up six hits, struck out six and did not issue a walk.

“It was a nerve-wracking game,” said Cotter, a sophomore right-hander, whose 10 strikeouts brought her season total to 78 in 52 innings.

A double play erased a leadoff single by South Allegheny's Tiffany Nacaratto in the seventh.

“My heart was up in my head before that,” Rohan said, “but my confidence in my teammates has always been there, whether its with their defense or their bats.”

Steel Valley visits Charleroi (7-3, 5-1) and South Allegheny will entertain Brentwood (5-4, 3-3), both Thursday.

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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