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McKeesport edges Woodland Hills to keep pace in section

| Thursday, April 24, 2014, 10:21 p.m.

The McKeesport softball team kept pace Thursday, beating another Section 2-AAAA opponent, despite the absence of its leading hitter.

Playing without injured sophomore shortstop Vanessa Falce for a second consecutive game, the Tigers scored two runs in the fifth inning to take the lead for good and held off visiting Woodland Hills, 7-6, to remain a half-game behind section-leading No. 3 Plum.

It was the second consecutive victory for McKeesport (9-3, 8-1) after a two-game skid. The Tigers have won eight of their last 10.

“The girls showed today that they can play this game at a high level, even without a full team,” McKeesport coach Melissa Conrad said.

Falce, who injured a knee on Saturday in a 7-1 loss at Class AAA No. 4 Elizabeth Forward, is batting .736 for McKeesport.

In her place, freshman Rebekah Reist gave McKeesport a 5-4 lead in the third with a two-run single, capping a three-run rally, before Woodland Hills (3-5, 3-4) tied the score in the fifth on a RBI single by Hannah Bennaugh.

“We've been talking a lot lately about someone getting the big hit,” Conrad said. “Rebekah got that big hit for us today. It was great to see a freshman contribute like she did.”

Reist began the game at shortstop and moved to second base in the third.

The victory strengthened McKeesport's hold on second place in the section, where the Tigers continued to trail Plum by a half-game after the Mustangs routed Penn Hills 18-3.

McKeesport and Plum split their two-game regular-season series, with each handing the other their only section loss.

McKeesport scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to break a 5-5 tie after Woodland Hills pitcher Kirsten Terry, who had three hits for the Wolverines, threw out Mai Gooden on a combacker and both Tigers runners beat a throw to the plate.

“Heads up play there by our girls,” Conrad said.

“We need to improve our defense a little, but they're doing a good job overall, and we're just going to keep playing hard.”

McKeesport survived five errors. two coming in a four-run second for Woodland Hills, which also reached inning pitcher Jess Beitler for four hits during the rally. It gave the Wolverines a 4-2 lead after McKeesport went in front 2-0 in the first on three hits and a walk.

Both teams finished with nine hits.

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

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