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Redbank Valley scores nine runs in seventh

| Friday, May 26, 2006

NEW BETHLEHEM -- The Redbank Valley softball team just wasn't ready to put a lid on its season.

Down eight runs as the bottom of the seventh inning got under way, the Lady Bulldogs erupted for nine runs to pull out a 12-11 thriller over Cranberry in the PIAA District 9 semifinals Thursday afternoon at the New Bethlehem Little League Complex.

Sophomore Keri Bowser's single to center field with two outs scored Tasha Troup with the winning run, as Redbank Valley sent 13 batters to the plate during its amazing comeback.

The victory gives the Bulldogs (12-9) a berth in the district finals against Brookville, a 16-9 upset winner over No. 1-seeded Moniteau yesterday.

Cranberry, in only its second season as a District 9 school after transferring from District 10, ended its season at 8-9.

Kia Wiant, who relieved starter Courtney Bullers in the sixth, was the winning pitcher.

"We told our bench to keep getting up and getting up, and in that seventh inning, we were at a fevered pitch and ready to play," Bulldogs coach John Sayers said. "I'm proud of our girls; they never quit. We're not done until the last out."

Up to that point, Cranberry was cruising along, taking a 5-3 lead into the top of the third, eventually exploding for five runs on only one hit in the sixth inning. A run on a groundout by Melissa Kirwin in the top of the seventh scored Casey Carson and appeared to give the Berries an insurmountable lead.

Ashley McCullough, batting for Wiant, was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh. Tasha Troup reached base on an error but was thrown out at second.

Ashley Stepulla was hit by a pitch, setting the stage for the first of two Bowser singles in the inning.

Kelsey Delp reached on an error and, with the bases loaded on an intentional walk to Alyssa Shirey, Tessa Magagnotti slammed a double to center. Haley Wanninger rolled out to second, putting Cranberry one out away from the victory.

But a walk and three more errors brought Bowser to the plate with the winning run on second.

"I was so nervous, but then I was so excited," Bowser said. "I was swinging and hoping for the best. As a team, we never give up."

"Thre pressure just got to them, I think," Cranberry coach Larry Sherman said. "It's a tough way for the seniors to go. We had a ton of baserunners, but we came up a little short."

Berries pitcher Rhea Miller, after yielding three runs in first inning, retired eight of nine batters in one stretch and didn't allow more than one baserunner from the second to the sixth inning.

Bulldogs right-hander Bullers was relieved after her pitch-count soared to 150.

After the game, Sherman confirmed his retirement after 17 years with the program.

Since Redbank Valley and Brookville are playing for both the baseball and softball titles, attempts will be made to play the games concurrently Tuesday.

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