Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
The Mohawk High softball team had opportunities yesterday.
Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, they let many of those chances get away.
Mohawk left 10 runners on base, including five in scoring position, in dropping an 8-4 WPIAL Class AA quarterfinal-round playoff game to Chartiers-Houston at North Allegheny High School.
“They’re a good team and they put the ball in play to score some runs,” Lady Warriors coach Pam Beatty said of Chartiers-Houston. “We had eight hits to 11 hits for them, so we had a similar number of hits.
“We got the bases loaded a couple of times, but we just couldn’t push those runs in.”
The second-seeded Lady Buccaneers (18-0) move on to meet Riverside, a 6-0 winner over Steel Valley, tomorrow at a time and site to be determined. Chartiers-Houston is ranked No. 1 in Class AA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The seventh-seeded Lady Warriors finish their season at 14-4.
Mohawk, which was down 1-0, put the first two runners on base to open the top of the second inning. Hannah Morrow led off the inning with a single and Jaki Bender launched a 1-1 pitch to center that landed near the fence. Morrow took third on the play. But Lady Buccaneers pitcher Kayla Briggs recorded two straight strikeouts and a groundout to escape any damage.
The Lady Warriors trailed 1-0 courtesy of a wild pitch from Bender that put Briggs in scoring position. She came around to score on a run-producing groundout by Toni Spossey.
“It’s important to jump on them early,” Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson said. “Especially with them being the visitors with all that speed at the top of the lineup.
“We were glad they didn’t get anything in the first inning and we were able to manufacture one.”
Trailing 2-0, Mohawk had runners on second and third with one out in the third inning and didn’t score. Shelby Brown posted a one-out single and Lucia Fee answered with a rocket to center that landed near the fence.
“It’s frustrating. The girls are trying to do their best,” Beatty said. “Whatever her pitch might have been or whatever the situation, we just couldn’t score those runs.”
“It was just good pitching; really great clutch pitching in those early situations,” Alderson said of Briggs getting out of jams.
The Lady Warriors finally got on the board in the fifth. The Lady Buccaneers owned a 3-0 lead, but Mohawk loaded the bases with one out. Hannah Morrow belted a sacrifice fly to center and two runs came around to score, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
But the Lady Buccaneers wasted little time answering. Chartiers-Houston tallied three runs in the bottom of the fifth to push the lead to 6-2.
“We came back and put up a couple of runs on the board to get back in the game. But they’re a good team and they’re going to battle back,” Beatty said.
Said Alderson, “When the girls came in after that inning we were saying that we have to get them back. We responded by getting more than one. We try to play to win each inning.”
Mohawk never quit battling. The Lady Warriors scored a run in the seventh and had another runner thrown out at third in the frame.
“That’s one thing about our team, we never give up,” Beatty said.
Fee and Morrow paced the Lady Warriors with two hits apiece.
Bender (13-4) went the distance to take the loss. She allowed 11 hits and eight runs — six earned — with two walks and four strikeouts.
“Jaki did a nice job, but they caught up to her,” Beatty said. “They’re a good-hitting team. We just have to make the plays for her.”
Briggs (17-0) surrendered eight hits and four runs — three earned — with four walks and nine strikeouts.
“I thought she did a nice job,” Alderson said. “We knew coming in that they had a lot of speed and a lot of kids that would hit the ball.
“This was probably one of the top performances against her. We knew we were going to have to outhit them to get the win.”
Beatty’s team loses six players to graduation — Lea Brown, Shelby Brown, Fee, Devon Giancola, Morrow and Cara Trotter. All but Trotter started yesterday.
“Four of those girls have been our core infield the last couple of years,” Beatty said. “Lucia was moved to catcher this year.
“We have six seniors and they all played their part. It will be different next year without those six on the field.”