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Neshannock rallies to win 2nd straight WPIAL Class A softball title

| Thursday, May 29, 2014, 3:21 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Neshannock base runner Kaela Zingaro scores as South Side Beaver catcher Capri Sollinger-Knisley awaits the throw during the WPIAL Class A softball championship game Thursday, May 29, 2014, at California (Pa.). Zingaro is one of three student-athletes who filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, against the PIAA alleging the governing body of the state's interscholastic sports did little to protect them from or help with concussions.

A one-hour, 26-minute rain delay wasn't enough to stop a five-run Neshannock rally in the fifth inning of Thursday's WPIAL Class A softball title game.

The Lancers scored four runs after play resumed and secured their second consecutive title with an 8-5 victory over South Side Beaver at Cal (Pa.)'s soggy Lilley Field.

Marissa Kirkwood's RBI single broke a 3-3 tie just before the grounds crew was called into action.

Once the teams returned to the field, Neshannock added four more runs with two outs to take command of the game.

“With the rain delay, we know there's nothing you can do,” Neshannock catcher Marissa Kirkwood said. “We kept up and kept doing stuff instead of sitting around. We didn't want our momentum to stop.”

The Lancers pounded out 13 hits to support the eight-strikeout pitching of junior Madison Shaffer.

Neshannock (16-2) will play District 9 runner-up Smethport to begin the PIAA playoffs, while the Rams (16-4) will battle District 10 champ Iroquois. Both games will be Monday at sites and times to be determined. Neshannock won the PIAA title in 2012 as a Class AA school.

After Gina Zingaro was called out for interfering with the Rams shortstop as her sister, Kaela, singled, Jenna DeLuca singled to drive home Kirkwood.

A double by Marissa DeMatteo and a single by Cassidy Burrell completed the big inning.

“That was huge to score all of those runs after two were out,” Lancers coach Tracy Kimmel said. “They're a good team. They were starting to scare us a bit.”

Indeed, South Side had rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 3-3.

Antonia Yacoviello's two-run single put the Rams on the scoreboard. When Shaffer was slow to get back to the pitcher's circle and the play still alive, Yacoviello headed toward second and was thrown out by the catcher.

But at the same time, Connor McGaffic scored from third to tie the game.

South Side, making its first appearance in the WPIAL softball finals, tried to answer Neshannock's big rally in the bottom of the fifth, but had to settle for two runs.

Hunter Hand, who opened the inning with a double, scored on an error. Yacoviello drove in Cheyenne Seik with a single to conclude the game's scoring.

Shaffer came into the game with an 0.49 ERA, but yielded a pair of earned runs.

“Our girls can hit a lot better than what they did today,” South Side coach Theresa Waxler said. “Absolutely, the rain delay affected us. We had come back, we were in the game, we had the rain delay and they scored five runs. It positively hurt us.”

DeLuca led the Lancers with a double, two singles and three RBIs.

Seik had three singles for the Rams, who lost to Neshannock for the third time this season.

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