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North Allegheny edges McKeesport in pitchers' duel

| Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 9:36 p.m.

If what is said in fast-pitch softball is that a pitcher is the most important player on the field, it was quite evident Tuesday at Plum, where North Allegheny's Maddy Beining and McKeesport's Jess Beitler put on a stellar show in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

It was one of those games where having to accept the loss was a real shame.

Beining pitched a one-hitter, and Laura Cotter drove home the game's only run with a seventh-inning single as ninth-seeded North Allegheny eliminated eighth-seeded McKeesport, 1-0.

North Allegheny also sidelined McKeesport in the 2013 playoffs, winning a quarterfinal game 7-5. It lost to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL championship game and again in the PIAA quarterfinals.

“Everything is magnified for the playoffs. It was a tense game, and we just got the big hit there when we needed it,” North Allegheny coach Rick Meister said of his team's latest effort. “I thought we played excellent defense. McKeesport hit some balls that weren't routine outs by any means.”

North Allegheny, which managed just five singles against Beitler, advances to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Canon-McMillan at a time, site and date to be announced.

Beining, a sophomore who has given Division II Gannon a verbal commitment, struck out seven and walked one. The only McKeesport hit was an infield single in the sixth inning by Keirston Spiewak.

“Both pitchers pitched a very good game,” McKeesport coach Melissa Conrad said. “They just came up with that one hit when it counted, and we couldn't get a hit when we needed it.”

North Allegheny (16-4), of Section 3, loaded the bases against Beitler in the fifth inning but didn't score.

Then in the seventh, it manufactured the only run necessary with two outs. Mackenzie Gostomski singled, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and scored on Cotter's single to right field, her second hit of the game.

McKeesport (13-6), of Section 2, had just two runners reach first base against Beining.

Meister said that while Beining, Cotter and others were getting some well-deserved attention, Gostomski, the team's No. 9 hitter, was as important as anyone in helping North Allegheny get the victory.

“Without her on base, we don't score the run,” Meister said. “She was so patient at the plate, and that's to her credit.”

Gostomski reached base in all three at-bats, walking twice.

Beitler, a senior playing in her final game for McKeesport, walked three and struck out one. She gave up just two hits through five innings.

Conrad, who completed her third season as coach at McKeesport, commended the team for another successful season. The Tigers tied Plum with the best regular-season record in Section 2 at 11-1 after going 12-0 in 2013.

“I'm impressed,” Conrad said. “I'm really pleased with all of them. There's not one of them I'm disappointed in.”

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

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