Charleroi comes up short in 4-0 loss
The most successful softball season in the last 20 years for Charleroi ended on a sour note Tuesday with a 4-0 loss to McGuffey.
The Lady Cougars (11-4) struggled at the plate and, at times, in the field as they bowed to the Highlanders (13-3) in a WPIAL Class AA first round playoff game at California University's Lilley Field.
The winners put together a solid fifth inning, banging out five hits — including three straight doubles — and scoring three runs to open the 4-0 lead.
Charleroi struggled at the plate against McGuffey's Cassie Weiss, who limited Charleroi to three hits as she struck out six and didn't walk a batter.
“She's pretty tough,” Charleroi coach Trey Tilghman said. “She has a good curve. She kept us off-balance.
“And we struggled hitting the ball.”
The first-year coach had a hard time holding his emotions back as he talked about what had been a magical season.
“These girls gave the effort all year long. I'm just glad I got the opportunity to coach them this year,” he said. “We did some things that hadn't been done around here for a long time. We're not a doormat any more and we will come back next year and work to try and be even better.”
Jen Tilghman seemed to be coasting on the mound for Charleroi going into the fourth inning, having retired eight straight hitters.
But the Highlanders nicked her for a run to take a 1-0 lead on two singles and an error.
The fifth inning was another story as McGuffey came out swinging with the first five batters hitting safely. The inning could have been a lot worse if Charleroi left fielder Kaitlyn McCann hadn't thrown out Weiss at the plate.
Weiss tried to score from first base on Rachel Kleinhaus' double to left.
However, the next two batters hit doubles to score runs to make it 3-0 and the third run of the inning came home on an error.
“I don't think (Jen Tilghman) got tired,” the coach and father said. “I think we made a couple of mistakes here and there. You gotta play solid in the playoffs. You can't make mistakes.”
Charleroi's best chance to score came in the top of the fifth when McCann singled with one out. Lynsey Wright hit a grounder to short and an attempt to force McCann at second resulted in a wild throw into right field that allowed the runners to move to second and third.
But Weiss knuckled down and struck out Adrianna Gottheld and Anjie Tilghman to get out of the jam.
In the first inning, with two outs, Morgan Riley smacked a double to left center, but was left stranded.
“I'm still proud of these girls,” said a teary-eyed Trey Tilghman. “I'm just glad I got a chance to coach these kids. I expected to make the playoffs and I was just hoping to get a playoff win for these seniors, who had never had one before.”
McGuffey, which will meet second-seeded Deer Lakes (16-0) in the quarterfinals, had 11 hits with Weiss, Marlie Mounts, Meghan Schultz and Carae Wagner getting two each.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.