Elizabeth Forward scores five in the seventh to advance to softball semis
Inning after inning, South Fayette kept putting runners on base.
In three of the first four innings of Tuesday's Class AAA quarterfinal game against Elizabeth Forward, the Lions put the leadoff runner on but couldn't find a way to get her home.
It seemed as though it was going to be a only matter of time before a runner crossed the plate.
That time came in the seventh inning, and that time came for Elizabeth Forward.
Stifled for the majority of the game, No. 7 Elizabeth Forward put up five runs on seven hits in the top of the seventh to advance to the semifinals for second time in three years with a 5-0 upset of No. 2 South Fayette (14-2) at Baldwin.
“That's the way we've been doing it all year,” Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said. “One big inning has been our trademark this year, and it happened again.”
Elizabeth Forward (14-6) will take on No. 11 Mars (11-4) on Thursday with the winner advancing to next week's WPIAL championship game against either Greensburg Salem or Thomas Jefferson.
“This game just turned the other way at the end,” South Fayette coach Vic Iagnemma said. “We had base runners on all game but just couldn't bring them home. It all just came down to that last inning.”
Until that last inning, South Fayette's Ashley Iagnemma and Elizabeth Forward freshman Lauren Mathews were engaged in quite a pitchers' duel.
Iagnemma allowed only singles by Courtney Hrabosky, Caitlyn Arico and Lexi Ribarchak through six innings. Mathews worked out of jams by allowing contact. She didn't have any strikeouts but yielded only four hits and a walk.
“She did what we asked her today,” Rutherford said “She hit her spots and put the ball in play. The defense was there for us. We made the plays and hustled to the ball.”
The offense came in the seventh.
Singles by Jessica Cartia, Ribarchak and Ashley Baker brought up No. 9 hitter Kelsey Benedek with one out.
Rewind to the inning before, when Rutherford pinch hit Mercedes Boyce for Benedek, hoping Boyce could get on base with a bunt. However, after Boyce got two strikes on her, Rutherford put Benedek back in to hit. She lined out to shortstop.
The next time, Rutherford stayed with Benedek.
“I told her she can be as mad as she wants to be at me but hit it as hard as you did last time, and that's what she did,” Rutherford.
Benedek hit a hard roller between short and third, and even though Gwen Iagnemma got her glove on the ball, pinch runner Jessica Guffey scored to make it 1-0.
The flood gates opened after that.
Hrabosky drove in a pair with a double to make it 3-0. Jen Keefer's RBI single made it 4-0, and Arico hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
“They just started dropping balls in where there were no fielders,” Vic Iagnemma said. “That was going to be the difference in the game for either team. If you drop those balls in where you can't get it, that changes things. They hit the spots, and we didn't.”
EF finished with 10 hits, led by two each from Hrabosky and Ribarchak. Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit. Sara Jubas had two of South Fayette's four hits.