No. 1 Canon-McMillan uses hitting binge in 6th inning to down Latrobe in semifinals
Third baseman Olivia Lorusso knew the hits would come. It was only a matter of when.
They finally came in the sixth inning of the Canon-McMillan softball team's WPIAL Class AAAA semifinal against Latrobe on Thursday, when the Big Macs used four consecutive hits to score four runs en route to a 7-6 victory at Cal (Pa.)'s Lilley Field.
“We all know we can hit the ball,” said Lorusso, whose two-run single pushed Canon-Mac ahead for good. “After we get down, we're like, ‘OK, it's time to pick it up.' I wasn't too nervous, to be honest.”
With three future Division I hitters — though one left due to injury — in the heart of the order, one could understand why Lorusso remained calm.
One of those big bats, fellow Robert Morris recruit Abby McCartney, had perhaps the most impressive hit of the rally, waiting on a 3-1 changeup and poking it into center field for a run-scoring single.
“It's a snowball effect,” McCartney said. “Usually when one person gets a hit, we want to keep it rolling.”
Now, top-seeded Canon-McMillan (18-3) will get a chance to win a third consecutive WPIAL Class AAAA title when it plays Shaler next Thursday at Cal.
The defending PIAA champs are 14-1 in their past 15 playoff games.
“It's hard not to feel the nerves,” Canon-McMillan coach Michele Moeller said.
“We've been the No. 1 seed all year. The people who love you and want you to do it again, you don't want to let people down.”
McCartney, Lorusso and freshman left fielder Brittney Crawford all had two hits for Canon-McMillan.
Crawford homered in the first inning for the Big Macs' 50th long ball of the year.
McCartney shifted from center field to catcher after Giorgiana Zeremenko left with an ankle injury.
Ashley Perillo finished with four hits for Latrobe (15-5), which will play Penn-Trafford in the consolation round next Tuesday.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, Latrobe tied the score in the second inning. An inning later, Perillo ripped a one-run double to right center, and third baseman Jenna Adams added a two-run single for a 5-2 Latrobe lead.
The Big Macs got one run back when second baseman Ally Bellaire's grounder to third went under Adams' glove, scoring Lorusso.
Adams restored Latrobe's three-run lead with her single to center in the top of the fifth that scored Perillo.
That set the stage for Canon-McMillan's flurry of hits, a stretch that didn't exactly surprise Moeller.
“Apparently it looks contagious,” Moeller said. “They get some hits, and they start to string them together.”