Keystone Oaks softball ends season on soggy note
The 2014 Keystone Oaks softball season will be known for ending five outs short.
During the WPIAL Class AA consolation game at North Allegheny last week, heavy storms moved into Wexford during the top of the sixth inning.
After the rains turned the field into a mud pit, the umpires called the game and awarded Seton-La Salle the 3-2 win.
“We were trying to get the full seven innings in,” Keystone Oaks coach Mark Kaminski said. “The rule is that if you play four and a half innings, it is a complete game. The girls were upset.”
With one out, Keystone Oaks had the tying run on first base. But the storm moved in so fast that officials were unable to cover the field.
The Golden Eagles grabbed a 2-0 advantage in the top of the third as Meghan Staab connected on a triple to drive Julia Canello home. Staab would then steal home on a wild pitch to give Keystone Oaks the two-run lead.
But in the bottom of the inning, Seton-La Salle grabbed the lead. The Golden Eagles recorded three errors in the inning, each allowing the Rebels to advance runners.
“Other than that inning, I feel we were dominating,” Kaminski said. “It was one bad inning with some bad throws.”
It was the third meeting between the Section 1-A rivals after they split the regular season series.
“It's been a great rivalry for everyone involved over the last four years,” Seton-La Salle coach Jay Krull said. “It's a shame it's ending with (Keystone Oaks) moving up to (Class) AAA. We hope to continue the rivalry in a nonsection format.”
Freshman pitcher Lauren McMillan was a force on the mound for Keystone Oaks in the consolation game. She recorded seven strikeouts in five innings of work.
“I believe she is as good as anyone in the WPIAL,” Kaminski said. “She has a long way to go. She is just getting a handle on her breaking pitch. She is only going to get stronger and faster.”
McMillan is just one of several starting underclassmen who will return next season. The Golden Eagles will be boosted by the returns of sophomore outfielders Canello and Katie Lehman, third baseman Laura Poliziani, catcher Candace Drzik and infielder Mariah Agurs.
The young players helped the team reach its top two goals this season – winning the Section 1-A title and getting the program's first WPIAL playoff win since the 2005 season – and will be ready to take it further next year.
“They know what the coaches expect,” Kaminski said. “When they step into our offseason stuff, they know where to go and what to do.”
But replacing the six seniors from this season's roster won't be easy. Kaminski praised the effort of the players, especially multi-year starters Staab and center fielder Eryn Caragein.
“I told them (after the WPIAL consolation game) they cannot be replaced,” Kaminski said. “(Staab) and (Caragein) are as good of softball players you are going to see come through the program. It will be tough to replace them.”
Keystone Oaks finished the year with a 13-6 record. The Golden Eagles defeated Laurel, 3-0, and Waynesburg, 6-0, in the opening rounds of the WPIAL playoffs before falling to eventual champion Beaver, 2-1, in the semifinals.