Kittanning softball clips Indiana in 8 innings
It was Indiana's senior day, but Kittanning's seniors stole the spotlight.
Terra Schall's RBI double in the top of the eighth brought home Georgie Shoop for the winning run, and Kittanning snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-5 win in Section 5-AAA play Thursday.
Starting pitcher Emily Kutch had a big day for Kittanning (2-8, 2-6). Not only did she allow just one run in four innings, she also drove in three runs with her first career homer, a deep blast that landed on the road behind the left-field fence in Indiana (2-10, 1-7).
Kutch, Schall and Shoop are the only three seniors for the Wildcats this season, and as Kittanning hits the final week of its schedule, their coach was happy to see that trio come up big.
“The seniors played great today. They've played well all year,” Kittanning coach Tom Emminger said. “More than just players, they've been leaders. They've taken the younger kids and taught while they played, and they've fought the whole year.”
Schall ended the first inning with a diving, over-the-shoulder catch in left field from her shortstop position. The highlight-reel play robbed Indiana's Dana Piper of a hit and likely saved two runs after the Indians had put runners aboard by way of a catcher's interference call and a walk.
That catch allowed Kittanning to strike first in the third. Emily Fries led off with a walk, and Schall hit a triple to the fence to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. Maggie McCanna then walked to bring up Kutch, who came through with her three-run shot.
“Their (pitcher) had speed, so we said if you get on her and make contact, it's going to go,” Kutch said. “I didn't think it was going to be me, but it felt good off the bat, and it went.”
Madison Veri added an RBI single in the fourth inning to give Kittanning a 5-0 lead, but Indiana got on the board in the bottom half when a throw by Schall on a potential double play got away and allowed Adrian Smith to score from third.
Indiana continued to rally in the fifth, when two two-out errors by the Wildcats set Smith up to hit a two-run double off winning relief pitcher Alexis Adams.
Run-scoring doubles in the sixth by Morgan Doolin and Bethany Balencic tied the score 5-5 though the tying run by pinch runner Emily Reese was nearly wiped out by a great throw from left field by Shoop. Catcher Breanna McGaughey's tag appeared to be in time, but the ball just slipped out of her glove after touching the runner.
Both teams went down 1-2-3 in the seventh, and after Kittanning scored in the eighth, it took tough catches on popups by Kutch — then playing second base — and charging center fielder Veri to seal the win with runners on second and third.
“We've had a rough season, and we're a young team,” Kutch said. “I think as the season has progressed, we've learned more how those little plays count, and how hustling after those balls can make the difference. Maddie (Veri) made a great play in center. It was a little scary, but she got there.”
The Wildcats have four games remaining next week, and Emminger hopes a win like Thursday's can be a boost for his team.
“We gave up some runs because of two errors, but our young girls regrouped and did a nice job,” he said. “If we can come back next week and get one from Mars and beat Ford City or Burrell, hey, our young girls are going to be ready to come out strong next year.”