Shaler knocks off Canon-McMillan to win AAAA championship
Despite getting just two hits in the inning, Shaler pushed across four runs in the bottom of the sixth to end Canon-McMillan's two-year reign as WPIAL Class AAAA champion.
Sophomore pitcher Brianna Dobson then made the outburst stand by retiring the Big Macs in the seventh to preserve a 9-5 victory over Canon-McMillan at Cal (Pa.)'s Lilley Field.
It's the third WPIAL softball crown for the Titans, joining the school's gold medal seasons in 1982 and 2005.
“Doesn't matter that we only had two hits, we made it across the line, and that's all that counted,” Shaler coach Skip Palmer said. “We've battled all year. We believed in each other and we believed we could beat this team.”
Shaler (17-3) will face Latrobe in the first round of the PIAA tournament Monday, and Canon-McMillan (18-4) will face DuBois.
Kayla Seidl, just inserted into the game at second base the previous half inning, started the winning rally with a leadoff single. Mia Sipple bunted and Big Macs third baseman Olivia Lorusso elected to try and get the force at second, but Seidl beat the throw.
Jacey Schott walked to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Haley Dengler brought home Seidl with the go-ahead run.
An error let in two runs before Amanda Sartori's single scored courtesy runner Rylee Donovan to complete the rally.
“It's very tough to win when you make five errors,” Big Macs coach Michele Moeller said. “The hits were there, but unfortunately we reverted back to the early season and made poor errors.”
Canon-McMillan scored first after Linda Rush and Brittany Crawford opened with singles and both advanced on an error. Abby McCartney and Lorusso followed with sacrifice flies to give the Big Macs a 2-0 advantage.
Shaler took its first lead in the third. With two runners on to lead off the inning, AJ Nichols bunted. Canon-McMillan pitcher Taylor Fowler scooped the ball with her glove, but the toss out of her glove went over the first baseman's head and Schott scored.
Dobson hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Dengler. Courtesy runner Taylor Jones crossed the plate on Amanda Sartori's single to put the Titans up, 4-2.
“I wasn't confident then,” Palmer said. “I knew that team could really hit the ball. We talked about them hitting the ball and said we just have to make the plays.”
After Shaler added a run in the fourth, the Big Macs tied the score with three runs in the fifth.
Jada Kemp beat out a bunt to start the inning. With two out, McCartney tripled to deep left, Lorusso doubled and Giorgiana Zeremenko singled to make it 5-5.
George Guido is a freelance writer.