NEW CASTLE —
The heat is on.
The Shenango High softball team took control of its own destiny the race for a WPIAL Section 4-A crown a 4-2 win over visiting Neshannock yesterday.
The Lady Wildcats (7-1, 9-2) assumed sole possession of first place in the section with the Lady Lancers (6-1, 6-1) and South Side Beaver (6-2, 7-2) right on their heels.
“It was a very big win against a very good Neshannock team,” Shenango coach Amy Delaney said. “As a coaching staff, we tell the girls to play with confidence and to believe in themselves. They can play with anyone. I don’t know if they 100 percent believed that, but we’ve had quality wins against some quality teams. I think those wins are starting to open their eyes a little bit. They came into the game with a lot more confidence than the last time we played Neshannock.”
Neshannock entered the game as the WPIAL’s top-ranked team in Class A, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Shenango was No. 5.
“This isn’t something that’s going to ruin us,” Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. “Shenango’s coming. We could meet again in the playoffs. That’s a possibility. They could make a run. We just want to make the playoffs and then try to make a run ourselves.”
Shenango got going in the bottom of the first when Kim Burdett drilled a two-run single against Neshannock ace Madison Shaffer, which scored Alexa Owrey and Carolyn Peterson.
“We didn’t pitch very well to Burdett,” Kimmel said. “We should have pitched around her. I’ll take the blame for that. She came up with the hit, so I’ve got to give her credit. She put some good swings on the ball.”
Neshannock cut its deficit in half with a run in the fourth, but Burdett countered with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning for a 4-1 lead.
“Kim went to the plate with a lot of confidence,” Delaney said. “She did a great job of seeing the ball. She had quality at bats and was looking to drive the ball. She was clutch all day.”
The Lady Lancers pulled to within 4-2 with a run in the sixth and had a chance to take their first lead with runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, but couldn’t score.
“I thought we were gonna get back into it there,” KImmel said. “We just couldn’t put anything together. The good thing in this game is you usually get a second chance.”
Burdett finished the game with two hits and four RBIs, while Alyssa White also had a pair of hits for Shenango.
“We got up early on them and stuck with it all game,” Delaney said. “It was important to jump out early, because we dug ourselves a hole the last time we played them. Madison Shaffer isn’t easy to come back on. We were able to stay in control for the whole game.”
Macy Rubin earned her ninth win by scattering five hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out six.
“Macy was in complete control,” Delaney said. “Top to bottom, Neshannock has a strong lineup and she pitched an awesome game. She had batters off balance with her changeup and had great location on all her pitches. She pitched a gem of a game.”
Madison Altmyer had a pair of hits and a hit for Neshannock, while Marissa DeMatteo and Allie Fisher scored.
“We didn’t hit the ball very well and didn’t hit it very hard,” Kimmel said. “That’s not like us. We have a bunch of good swingers on this team. We talked after the game that sooner or later you’re gonna get beat. It’s hard to go undefeated. This definitely could help us down the road.”
Shaffer took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits. She struck out 10 and walked one.
“She feels like she has to go out there and mow everyone down,” Kimmel said. “She pitched a pretty good game. She just made a few mistakes against Burdett.”
NEW CASTLE —
The heat is on.
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