New Castle News

Sports

May 24, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Unbeaten Neshannock falls in WPIAL playoffs

NEW CASTLE — The Neshannock High girls softball team is used to seeing a zero on the scoreboard.

Just not in its own run column and especially not after seven innings.

That was the case yesterday as Neshannock’s offense failed to produce any runs in a 2-0 setback to Deer Lakes in a WPIAL Class AA semifnal at North Allegheny.

The loss was a frustrating one for top-seeded Neshannock (19-1), which cruised through its first 19 opponents.

“I knew this game was going to come, sooner or later,” Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. “You have to know it. When you’ve gone through 19-straight games, it’s going to catch up to you; you’re going to have a game like this where we hit the ball right at them and they make the plays.”

Neshannock averaged nine runs scored in its first 19 games, but Deer Lakes pitcher Haliey Moretti limited the squad to just three singles yesterday — two from Madison Shaffer and one from Amanda Furst. The team had several hard-hit balls, though.

“We hit the ball all day long, but everything was right at them. To their credit, they made the plays. I just never thought this pitcher would hold us to three hits,” Kimmel said. “We had a good shot to get in the championship. We’ve played well all year. There’s no shame here.”

The loss puts Neshannock into Tuesday’s consolation game against Section 3 rival Riverside, which dropped a 6-3 decision to Greensburg Central Catholic. Neshannock owns two victories over Riverside this year (5-2, 3-2). The winner advances to the PIAA tournament and meets the District 6 champ on June 4.

“We’ll get after them again. That’s all we can do. I hate to see it come down to us two,” Kimmel said. “It’s not over. We have a chance to redeem ourselves and move on. We’ll start another streak.”

Deer Lakes (18-1) advanced to its first WPIAL softball title game. The squad takes on Greensburg Central Catholic May 31.

“The ladies are really focused in right now. We’ve had our best practices of the year the last two weeks. They’ve just been business like and working their tails off,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “It’s getting over that hump. We got to this point last year and we felt like we had a chance and kind of let it slip away. This year, the ladies weren’t going to let it slip away. We would have liked to have scored a couple more runs, but we worked with what we had.”

Deer Lakes struck for the game’s only two runs in the bottom of the first. Katie Gozzard blasted a one-out double off the fence in deep center. Following a groundout, she scored on Sierra Sarver’s single. Hannah Blinn belted a double to deep left, which plated Sarver for a 2-0 edge.

Neshannock had a chance to slice the deficit in half in the top of the third. Rachel Iorio was hit by a pitch to start the inning. She moved to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. Marissa DeMatteo delivered an apparent sacrifice fly to left. Upon appeal, though, Iorio was ruled to have left third too soon and called out. The inning ended with the double play. Neshannock did not advance a runner past second after that frame.

Deer Lakes entered the game with a red-hot offense. The team scored 18 runs combined in its first two playoff games. Furst limited Deer Lakes to seven hits and the two early runs.

“We had 19 hits last game and 17 the game before that,” Taliani said. “But, you don’t always need that; you just need them in a timely fashion. We got the timely ones. We were ready from the beginning.”

 

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