New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Two perfect seasons were on the line at Wilmington High yesterday.
The Lady Greyhounds softball team hosted Neshannock in a non-league battle of undefeated teams, featuring two of the best pitchers in western Pennsylvania.
In the end, it was Wilmington senior pitching star Abby Sotter who outdueled Neshannock sophomore ace Madison Shaffer in a 6-5 victory.
“Those are two great pitchers there. The kids were up for the challenge,” Lady Greyhounds coach Tom Reed said. “They wanted to face a good team. We had a good day of practice on Saturday getting ready for it, and the kids came in fired up and ready to play.”
Sotter pitched seven innings and allowed 10 hits, but was able to limit the Neshannock offensive juggernaut to only five runs. She also hit a home run for the second game in a row.
“She seemed to be in full command of all of her pitches. She did walk two girls, but after that she settled down and went the rest of the way,” Reed said. “She stayed up on the counts.”
The game was all one would expect from two undefeated teams, as both exchanged two runs in the second and one in the third before Wilmington (7-0) was able to drive in two to take the lead in the fourth.
Alexis Donati delivered an RBI single and Courtney Cohen scored Chelsea Rogel on a sacrifice fly for the game-winning RBI.
Runs have come at a premium against the Lady Lancers (7-1), who had surrendered just two coming into the game and outscored opponents 93-2.
Shaffer (7-1) is a big reason for that, as she has earned three no-hitters in mercy rule games this season.
“They put the bat on the ball. We only had two strikeouts, and against a quality pitcher like Shaffer, I’m really happy with that,” Reed said. “She’s by far the best pitcher we’ve faced this year and the hardest throwing.”
The loss might have blemished Neshannock’s perfect season, but coach Tracy Kimmel likes to see his team in tough contests. The Lady Lancers won the Class AA state championship last year before dropping to Class A this season.
“There’s been a lot of pressure on these kids from last year,” he said. “Everybody thinks we’re going to run through everybody, but it’s a new team and a new year.”
Katie Burrelli hit a solo home run in the third inning for the Lady Lancers and added a single and three RBIs. Rayanna Furst and Alexandra Fischer chipped in with two hits.
“It was a good situation. We were looking forward to playing this game and knew it would be a test for us,” Kimmel said. “Wilmington is usually pretty good and they give us a good game. They have a veteran pitcher. You can see the difference in pitching when the girl is a senior a lot of times. She pitched really well. She had a lot to do with us not getting the ball out of the infield.
“We’re just looking to try to get prepared for the playoffs.”