New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Abba Frengel pleaded with her coach to be in the starting lineup.
The New Castle High softball catcher had missed the last three weeks with a broken ankle. But she wasn’t missing this game.
With a WPIAL Section 1-AAA playoff berth on the line against visiting Ellwood City, with the Lady ’Canes hosting a “Pink-Out” to support the fight against breast cancer and with her ankle healed enough to participate, how could she?
“The doctors said no twisting or anything, but she just begged me to play,” Lady ’Canes coach Leah Ann Williams said. “So, I threw her in the ninth spot just to hit.”
It was a decision that paid major dividends.
After scratching and crawling through eight scoreless innings, the zeroes occupying the run category for both teams wouldn’t budge. At least not until Frengel came up in the ninth to deliver the biggest hit of her career — a game-winning RBI single that earned New Castle a 1-0 victory and a spot in the postseason.
“It was just thrilling. I’m so happy for the girls. I’m so happy for them,” Williams said. “We just kept battling the whole game.”
Shannon Dudich started the inning by reaching on an error. The following batter, Jenna Frank, considered one of the team’s top power-hitting threats, was asked to do something she wasn’t used to — bunt.
Frank came through, advancing Dudich to second and putting a runner in scoring position with one out.
Sarah Antonelli followed, and surprisingly, the signals coming from Williams didn’t change. She asked for another bunt.
“I felt like we could surprise them,” Williams said.
The strategy worked, as not only did Dudich advance to third, but Antonelli was called safe at first on the play.
Frengel, who batted for starting pitcher Carley Aven and served as a designated hitter, put the game in the playoff history books with her winning hit, a single that went right up the middle to score Dudich.
“She hit really well (Monday) inside in the cage. She was really just pounding the ball. She said she really wanted to play and really wanted to hit.,” Williams said. “Boy, did she come through. It was just beautiful.”
The Lady ’Canes (6-4, 7-6) wouldn’t have gotten to that point had it not been for great starting pitching from both teams, neither of which walked a single batter.
Aven went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and picking up the no decision. The win went to Alyea Cioffi (4-1) who denied the Lady Wolverines (5-5, 6-7) in limiting them to two hits through 2 2/3 innings.
Ellwood’s Kara Sainato took the tough loss, going all nine innings and scattering seven hits.
For New Castle, the day was a winning one in more ways than one.
“It was lovely. We raised a lot of money and we had concession stands and raffles. Ellwood was very gracious,” Williams said. “It was not only just the win, they’re good girls with a good heart. Dana Perrotta (the ’Canes only senior) really started it all. She’s really big into community service.
“It was a good day.”
The Lady Wildcats secured a playoff berth with a Section 4-A win over visiting Union.
“That’s the third year in a row. Anytime you can make the playoffs, that’s a big deal for the program. I think the section is one of the toughest in single-A,” Shenango coach Amy Delaney said. “It says something about our team and our girls to come out of our section with a playoff spot.”
An overall effort has become expected for Shenango (8-3, 10-6) the past few weeks, as the team has averaged nearly nine runs a game and allowed only four a game against in its last seven contests. The Lady Wildcats are 6-1 in those games, with the only loss coming to Neshannock, 10-0.
“I think everything as a whole as far as our team goes. Offensively, we’ve been putting up a lot of runs,” Delaney said. “Any time you can give yourself that cushion offensively, that will help. The defense is stepping up to where I knew we could be.”
The game ended after five innings because of the mercy rule with Shenango scoring 12 runs in the third inning alone.
Kim Burdett led the charge with four RBIs, a walk and a double. Alyssa White continued to produce from the leadoff spot with three hits. Alexa Owrey and Shelby McCart slapped two hits apiece. Megan Gecina and Elizabeth Quahliero plated three RBIs each.
Macy Rubin improved to 10-6 on the season after giving up four runs through five innings on eight hits.
“She’s been doing really well all season long. She’s really maturing as a pitcher, being a freshman and being put in this spot. She’s really stepped up her game.”
The Lady Scots (5-8, 5-9) again were faced with an early-run deficit, as starter Jaynna Johnston and Ariel Junkin had a hard time dealing with the red-hot bats of the Lady Wildcats. Johnston went one inning and allowed four runs before Junkin, who has been battling injuries this season, pitched the next three and allowed 11 earned runs.
On offense, Johnna Johnston knocked two hits, including a double while Gina Gaibis got on base two times with a single and a walk.
New Brighton 7
Fielding miscues doomed host Laurel in a Section 5-AA loss to New Brighton.
Two errors in the second inning led to four runs for the Lady Lions (4-6, 9-7).
“That hurt us. They had two unearned runs that inning,” Lady Spartans coach Lori Krol said. “We got some hits following that and we got some runs, but we fell short at the plate.”
New Brighton pitcher Kiersten Manor proved a formidable foe, striking out 12 Laurel batters through seven and allowing only three hits.
“We had a hard time with her rise ball,” Krol said. “After the second inning, we played really well. We couldn’t get it going with the bats.”
Kristan Fedrizzi (1-5) picked up the loss with nine hits against, seven runs, four earned runs, six strikeouts and two walks in seven innings.
The Lady Spartans (2-8, 2-11) are eliminated from playoff contention and riding a seven-game losing streak.
“I’ve been telling them the last few games you have to play inning-by-inning, out-by-out and game-by-game,” Krol said. “We’re playing toward next year at this point. One thing this team’s not doing is giving up. They are not laying down by any stretch of the imagination.”
It’s crunch time for baseball teams in WPIAL Section 5-AA.
Neshannock, Shenango and Laurel high schools all are battling it out for the section’s third and last playoff berth. With a little more than one week left in the season, time and margin for error becomes smaller.
That’s what made the Lancers’ 9-3 road win over the Wildcats yesterday all the more important.
“We try to tell the kids this was a playoff game,” Neshannock coach Mike Kirkwood said. “We put ourselves in this situation and it’s us who can pull ourselves out of it. These are the fun games. This is why you play the games.”
The Lancers (7-4 section, 10-4 overall) certainly played with desperation in the first, accumulating five runs in the inning and jumping out to an early lead for ace starter Alex Welker. With Neshannock’s Matt Cioffi at the plate, a misplayed ground ball and potential double play was missed by a Shenango defender, enabling the inning to continue.
“It was the inability of us to make plays escalated to them getting timely hits,” Wildcats coach Mike Othites said. “Instead of being a close game, it ended up being not so close.”
Cioffi and Welker both contributed two hits for the Lancers and Welker also had two RBIs. What hurt Shenango more wasn’t Welker’s bat, but his arm.
“You can’t spot Welker a 5-0 lead,” Othites said. “When you get spotted a five-run lead, you can go and pitch your pitches. He wasn’t able to get his curveball over like I saw last time, but he really didn’t need to. He made plays he needed to make.”
Shenango (5-6, 8-7) dropped the first contest between the teams, 8-6, and needed a split of the series to help with its playoff chances.
With Neshannock playing a packed schedule this week, Kirkwood limited Welker to five innings in which he allowed three hits and three runs — two earned — seven strikeouts and five walks.
“He did a nice job,” Kirkwood said. “There was a tight strike zone and he was able to come back and not walk many guys.”
The Wildcats’ Brent McCormick found success against Welker, collecting two hits.
The loss puts Shenango two games back of the Lancers for the final playoff berth. Neshannock took a half-game lead over Laurel after its loss to Beaver.
The Scotties clinched the No. 2 seed in Section 3-A with a win over visiting Rochester.
It was the third meeting between the two teams this season, with Union (6-3, 8-4) coming out on top all three times.
“You don’t want to take them easy because they aren’t a bad baseball team,” Scotties coach Mark Stanley said. “Joe Salmen stepped up and pitched a good game for us. He was able to hold them down and mow them down. We had one tough inning in the fifth, but he was able to keep them off base and keep them off balance.”
Salmen (3-0) went the distance, surrendering two hits and one earned run with eight strikeouts.
Union jumped out early on the Rams (5-4, 5-6) with four runs in the first. Doubles by Carrington Bell and Drew Robinson followed by a single from Kody Smith were the key hits in the frame. Robinson finished the game with two hits, both doubles, while Bell continued his torrid pace this season with two doubles of his own and two RBIs. Smith also drove in two runs.
“He started off slow, but he’s really come on,” Stanley said of Bell. “He’s just hitting the ball hard every time. He couldn’t be swinging a hotter bat right now.”
The Spartans were on the wrong side of a no-hitter against visiting Beaver.
“We hit the ball hard,” Laurel coach Eric Verdi said. “Everything we hit, we hit at them. Everything they hit, they found gaps.”
Aaron Ross was outstanding for the first-place Bobcats (9-1, 9-2) with four strikeouts and one walk.
“He got ahead in the count a lot,” Verdi said. “We had to hit a lot of two-strike pitches. It was their night. It wasn’t ours.”
Seneca Valley 13,
New Castle 9
New Castle couldn’t bounce back from an early deficit in a Section 1-AAAA defeat at Seneca Valley.
The section-leading Raiders (8-0, 12-2) used a crucial fielding error by the ’Canes in the first to pour on seven runs.
New Castle (2-6, 5-9) fought back, with nine runs through the next six innings, but the rally fell short.
“I’m tired of using the word battle, but the kids did battle. These kids fought. They fought back,” ’Canes coach Paul Malley Jr. said.
Ethan Pagley launched the first home run of the season for New Castle and also collected two RBIs. Vinny Jannetti plated three RBIs and Julian Cox chipped in a triple.
“Ethan’s been hitting the ball well,” Malley Jr. said. “That doesn’t surprise me that he got into one good.”
Having already been eliminated from playoff contention, the ’Canes are fighting for something else the rest of the way.
“We’re fighting for respect and to let teams know we’re going to battle,” Malley Jr. said. “We’re right there. We just want to take the next step and change these close games to wins.”
Mohawk couldn’t match the offensive output of visiting Riverside in a Section 5-AA defeat.
Pitching depth was a problem for the injury-riddled Warriors (1-10, 1-11). With three games and three days, starter John Hartzell was tasked with pitching as many innings as he could.
“He had a very strong start to the game for us. We find ourselves in a pretty tough spot here,” Warriors coach Kevin Sapp said. “We have a couple of pitchers with injuries right now. We talked to John about that some and we were monitoring how he was feeling. He was battling out there for us. Whether it shows up as much in the statistics as it does in our minds remains to be seen. Him being able to eat up innings really helped us out.”
Mohawk began the game well enough, even taking the lead for the first time against the Panthers in nearly two years with a run in the second. However, Riverside bounced back, notching 13 runs in the next four innings to force the mercy rule in the sixth. Hartzell went 5 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits, 13 runs, seven earned and six walks.
“It’s disappointing they pulled away late,” Sapp said. “It would have done a lot for morale if we hang in there and finished closer.”
The Warriors were limited to five hits in the game with Stevie Hervatine collecting two of them. Hervatine also contributed to both Mohawk runs in the game, driving in one and scoring on the other.
“He kind of played his way in the lineup. He’s put the bat on the ball and hasn’t really looked overmatched at the plate,” Sapp said. “It’s nice to see a young guy given an opportunity to step up and take advantage of it.”
West Middlesex 6
The Greyhounds fell short in a District 10, Region 2 decision at West Middlesex.
Wilmington (6-3 region, 7-3 overall) surrendered all six runs through the first three innings and was limited to six hits on offense.
Ryan Brumbaugh had two hits including a two-RBI double in the first. Davis Smith added two hits, with a two-RBI single in the fifth. Nate Anthony slapped a double and was 2 for 4.
Travis Brumbaugh (3-1) dropped his first decision of the season, working five innings and finishing with 10 hits, six runs, two earned, two walks while striking out five.
Dwight Scott paced a dominant Greyhounds performance over Kennedy Catholic, 117-7.
Scott claimed victory in the 100, 200, 400 and 1600 relay, while three teammates earned three victories each.
Jared Masters tallied a win in the 800, 1600 and 3200 relay, Stefan Pontius was unmatched in the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and pole vault and David Perrine notched first-place finishes in the 400 relay, long jump and triple jump.
Lady Greyhounds cruise
Wilmington prevailed in a lopsided 133-8 decision against Kennedy Catholic.
Tessa Sikora and Rikki Brumbaugh powered the Lady Greyhounds in four events apiece. Sikora took the 200, high jump, long jump and triple jump, while Brumbaugh grabbed firsts in the 800, 3200, 1600 relay and 3200 relay.
Others performed well on the Wilmington squad as Sarah Schwenke leaped past the competition in the 100 hurdles, 400 relay and pole vault and Allison Baldwin outran the field in the 100, 400 and 1600 relay.