Latrobe edges Seneca Valley to reach softball semifinals
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Shelby Noel has been Latrobe's power hitter in the middle of the lineup all year. But it was a check-swing that proved to be her most important contact of the season.
With two outs and two strikes against her in the bottom of the seventh inning, Noel's check-swing bouncer was fielded, but third baseman Jess Nell's errant throw allowed junior Alexus Fearer to score from second base and give the fifth-seeded Wildcats (15-3) a thrilling 3-2 WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal win over fourth-seeded Seneca Valley (12-3) at Fox Chapel.
Latrobe, which had blown a 2-0 lead after six innings, will face top-seeded Canon-McMillan in the semifinals Wednesday at a time and location to be determined.
“I went up to bat hoping to get the run in,” said Noel, a senior who hit .600 this season. “When I had two strikes, I just wanted to put the ball in play. I just kind of hoped for the best when I swung.”
It was a hectic ending with the Raiders' left side of the infield scrambling for the ball. But with two outs and the game on the line, Fearer had only one thing on her mind amid the chaos.
“Just score,” she said.
After being shut out and not showing much offensively for the first six innings, the Raiders came alive in the top of the seventh. Nikki Matz singled to left to score Elayna Nagy before Alyssa Panza's single scored Julia Zezinka to knot the score at 2-2.
“That's a character win,” Latrobe first-year coach Alexa Bryson said. “A lot of teams, I think, would have just folded and been done.”
The Wildcats got on the board early with a two-run first. Noel hit a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Fearer, then Ashley Perillo knocked in Noel for the other run.
Freshman Meredith Carr tossed a gem, striking out six without a walk. For the first six innings she had the Raiders befuddled with her mix of pitches.
“She did all that we asked of her,” said Bryson, who pitched the Wildcats to WPIAL titles in 2007 and 2008 as a player. “If you limit a team to two runs, you did a good job.”
Carr got some help from her defense, which did not commit an error.
“Pitching and defense wins games,” Bryson said. “It's wonderful to know that when there's a ground ball, it's almost a guaranteed out.”
Seneca Valley, on the other hand, committed four errors, including two throwing errors in the deciding seventh. Fearer reached base on catcher Sarah Blagg's throwing error to lead off the inning before being bunted to second by Lexie Zoppetti.
“They're going to make mistakes from time to time, and you just have to try and overcome them,” Raiders coach George Trew said. “Today we just came up one short.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.