ShareThis Page

Late rally not enough for Neshannock in PIAA semifinals

| Monday, June 9, 2014, 8:18 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Claysburg-Kimmel's Kiersten Coho slides safely to home plate past Neshannock's Marissa Kirkwood during the PIAA Class A semifinals Monday, June 9, 2014, at Hempfield. Claysburg-Kimmel won 5-4 in eight innings.

When No. 9 hitter Jenna DeLuca crushed a game-tying, three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday, Neshannock softball coach Tracy Kimmel thought that was the break the Lancers needed.

Kimmel's gut feeling never came true.

Claysburg-Kimmel pitcher Kiersten Coho's eighth-inning double past a diving Kaela Zingaro in right field scored two and produced a 5-4 win for the Bulldogs in a PIAA Class A semifinal Monday at Hempfield.

“I thought we were in the driver's seat when we hit that three-run homer,” Kimmel said. “I really did. I thought we would come back, shut them down, come back and win. It just wasn't meant to be (Monday).”

This is the first time since 1997 that no WPIAL softball team reached the PIAA championship game. Neshannock was vying to play in the state title game for a third consecutive year after winning a PIAA Class AA championship in 2012, then finishing as runner-up in Class A last spring.

The Lancers came into this one with plenty of postseason momentum, too, outscoring opponents 43-7.

But Coho pounded the outside part of the plate and got ahead early in counts during an impressive performance that vaulted Claysburg-Kimmel (22-4) into the state final for the first time.

Coho, who improved to 16-3 and has struck out 154 over 123 innings — an average of 1.25 — allowed five hits over eight innings. She struck out five, walked one and hit one.

Sixty-five of 98 pitches went for strikes, and Coho fired first-pitch strikes to 24 of 33 hitters.

It's only the third time this season — all losses — that Neshannock (18-3) scored four or fewer runs.

“Everything we hit was right at them,” Kimmel said.

“We didn't hit a lot hard. We usually hit the ball a little better than this.”

Right fielder Abby Kulick and catcher Mallory Cox had back-to-back, one-out singles in the eighth before Coho's drive barely eluded Zingaro, who made a fantastic effort.

Zingaro finished with two of Neshannock's six hits.

Neshannock pitcher Madison Shaffer doubled and scored on shortstop Madison Altmyer's sacrifice fly in the bottom half, but that was all the Lancers could muster.

Claysburg-Kimmel took advantage of a Neshannock error to score three runs in the sixth. Morgan Keyara's bloop single scored second baseman Madison Ickes and Cox, who slid to beat the throw.

With Keyara caught between first and second, Neshannock tried to get the out at second. The throw went wide and allowed Coho to score. Cox and Coho walked to account for half of Shaffer's walk total for the game.

“(Shaffer) got a little wild and walked a couple,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Mike Barbarini said. “We had a couple seeing-eye hits there.

“They threw the ball around a little bit, which is not typical of them. We took advantage of that.”

DeLuca drove in third baseman Gina Zingaro and her sister, Kaela, with her homer, but it turned out not to be what many, including Kimmel, expected.

Still, with only two seniors graduating and a Penn State recruit in Shaffer and a Pitt commit in junior second baseman Marissa DeMatteo returning, there is a possibility Neshannock will be back next year.

“We know when you come here, there's going to be a winner and a loser,” Kimmel said. “You have to be able to accept losing at any time. You're not going to win all the time. There's just no way.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.