Spartans outlast Warriors
As Hempfield moved into the 10th inning of its WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal contest against Penn-Trafford, Lauren Shaheen had one thing to say.
"I'm not tired yet!" she shouted from the dugout.
Good thing, because she had to pitch another four innings Wednesday before Hempfield claimed a 4-3 comeback victory against Penn-Trafford at Gateway.
Hempfield's Sara Pettyjohn, who outhit Penn-Trafford by herself, tripled to lead off the 13th, then scored the winning run when Marcie Potuzko hit a hard grounder which was bobbled by the shortstop.
"(Penn-Trafford) had the advantage, because Shaheen wasn't going to be able to go forever," Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. "I was starting to worry that if we didn't score soon, we were going to have to pull Shaheen."
And with the way Shaheen was pitching, there was no way Kalp wanted to take her out.
Shaheen tallied 22 strikeouts in her 13 innings. She struck out 10 of the first 13 batters she faced and retired the side in order 10 times.
"We struggled with her all year," Penn-Trafford coach Rhonda Cooley said, alluding to the two regular-season shutout losses to Hempfield (16-4).
Shaheen took a no-hitter into the fifth, but that's when her defense ran into trouble.
Kayla Strittmatter reached on an error and later scored, giving Penn-Trafford (12-8) a 1-0 lead. Kelly Lemmon then hit a grounder through the legs of Hempfield first baseman Kelsey Criner, allowing Penn-Trafford to score two more runs in the fifth.
With the lead, Penn-Trafford thought it could take its mind off of Shaheen's fastball and change-up that had fooled batters throughout the game.
"Once we were up 3-0, I wasn't much worried about the hits," Cooley said. "It was about holding the lead."
Penn-Trafford, however, could not hold it. Pitcher Emily Kistler loaded the bases with no outs, and Rachel Komarinski cut the deficit to 3-2 by squeaking a two-run single into right field.
Cooley made a quick switch, bringing in Stefani Yanizeski to relieve Kistler. Yanizeski retired the next three batters, stranding two Hempfield baserunners in scoring position.
But Hempfield still had three outs remaining.
"Our kids, the last half of the year, have bought into the idea that they are not going to be done until all the outs are recorded." Kalp said.
He should have said strikes.
In a two-strike, two-out hole, pinch hitter Rachel Coletta reached safely on an infield single. One batter later, Coletta scored on a Pettyjohn single, as the ball was misplayed by the centerfielder.
"We were actually down to our last strike," Kalp said. "I told the assistant coaches, 'It don't look good, but we won't quit.' "
Hempfield will take that attitude into its semifinal matchup against Canon-McMillan (17-2) on Friday.