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Connellsville softball team secures winning record

| Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A slow start to the season proved to be the main culprit in the Connellsville softball team's inability to qualify for the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs.

But the Falcons still managed to secure a winning season thanks to a 4-3, comeback victory in eight innings over visiting Norwin in the season finale Tuesday.

"It gives us a good boost for next season," Connellsville coach Tom Nickelson said of the Section 1-AAAA win. "We showed a lot of heart, and we didn't quit, and we deserved it."

Trailing, 3-2, in the seventh, the Falcons (8-6, 6-6) were down to their final out. But with two strikes, Tommi Nickelson ripped a single that allowed Ally Panzella to slide home with the game-tying run.

In the eighth, Meghan Uher walked, and pinch-runner Kara Butler stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored the game-winning run off a Mandy Hall single.

"The kids worked hard," Tom Nickelson said. "Norwin beat us the first time, so we had to redeem ourselves a little bit."

The Knights (6-10, 3-9) started strong, as Kelsie Marconi led off the game with a triple and scored on an RBI single by Jamie Robinson.

Connellsville got that run back in the bottom of the first when Panzella, who finished with three hits and scored three runs, doubled and scored on a single by Tommi Nickelson.

The Falcons took the lead in the third when Panzella singled and scored on a wild pitch, but the Knights reclaimed the lead when Lindsey Robinson knocked in a pair of runs with a single.

Norwin's lead stood until the seventh when the Falcons staged their late-inning heroics.

"We have a great bunch of girls here," Tom Nickelson said.

Uher pitched a complete game, giving up seven hits and striking out nine to earn the win. Norwin's Robinson tossed a nine-hitter with five strikeouts in the loss.

Despite coming up short, Norwin coach Andy Phipps was pleased with how his team responded after being beaten badly by Penn-Trafford on Monday.

"It was a great comeback from Monday," Phipps said. "We came down here intending to win, and we played our hearts out. They gave us all we could handle, and we gave them all they could handle."

Norwin concludes its season with an exhibition game today at Penn Hills.

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