Walk-off hit lifts Leechburg over Vincentian
The playoff streak is all but secure, and now second place is in sight for the Leechburg softball team.
Monica Emricko's two-out hit dropped in fair territory behind first base, which let Miranda Reesman score in a walk-off win for the Blue Devils, 7-6, over visiting Vincentian in a Section 3-A game Friday.
The win means the Blue Devils (7-3, 6-3) will clinch their 28th consecutive WPIAL playoff berth — the district's longest active streak — with one win or one Riverview loss next week. Leechburg also can move into a tie for second in the section by winning its last three if Vincentian (8-3, 8-2) also loses to section-leading Jeannette.
“I'm hoping we're on an upswing here, heading toward the playoffs,” Reesman said. “It's really exciting that we're coming into the playoffs hot. That's what you want.”
Brooke Blumer drove in four runs for Leechburg, and winning pitcher Lindsey Rowe added an RBI double and scored twice.
Reesman was 0 for 2 with two walks, but the junior shortstop had a big impact on defense by starting double plays in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, all of which began with Reesman catching a hard line drive.
“That was a first for me,” Reesman said. “They just kept hitting them to me, so I had to be ready to make the play.”
The last of her double plays got the Blue Devils out of the top of the seventh after Vincentian pitcher Kim Corcoran led off with a double. Being caught too far off second was the only offensive miscue of the day for Corcoran, who was 4 for 4 with two doubles and drove in five of her team's six runs.
“The strange part about that last double play we pulled was that we had a pick-off play set up at second,” Leechburg coach Jim Oberdorf said. “Their girl hit that ball right where it was supposed to go to get the outs.”
Reesman led off the bottom half of the seventh by reaching base on an error. She stole second while the next two Leechburg hitters struck out, which brought up Emricko.
Emricko's popup was deep enough to force Vincentian first baseman Natalie Milas to retreat behind the bag. Milas wasn't able to make the tough over-the-shoulder catch, and the ball glanced off the end of her glove and dropped inches inside the foul line.
Leechburg jumped out to a 6-1 lead after two innings.
Rowe and Blumer had RBI hits, and Kassidi Horrell hit a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead in the first. In the second, Blumer drove in three with a bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center field.
Vincentian rallied with three runs in the third and two in the fourth. Corcoran had a two-run hit in each inning, and Kelsey Hunter added an RBI in the third.
With some help from her defense, Rowe shut the door on Vincentian by allowing just three hits in the final three innings after giving up eight in the first four.
“I've got to give Lindsey Rowe a lot of credit. As a freshman, she came in, and I thought she would do the job (pitching), but it turned out we had a great one in Kenzie Young,” Oberdorf said. “What happened was she turned into one of the best second basemen I've ever had. We've asked a lot from her going back to pitch her senior year, and she's hanging in there.”