- High School
Wild Pitch in 8th Gives Lancers Dramatic Victory
It took a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning to propel the Neshannock Lancers to their first PIAA softball championship with a 4-3 victory over the Warrior Run Defenders at Beard Field on Friday afternoon.
The Lancers leading hitter entering the game, Madison Altmyer tripled down the right field line to lead off the inning, Altmyer had a .538 average coming in, but was held hitless until that point. After one out and with Katie Burrelli at the plate, Taylor Parker uncorked a wild pitch that rebounded off the screen behind home plate and bounced directly back to catcher Lynn Vermilya. The sophomore tried to make the tag herself, instead of flipping the ball to Parker covering, Altmyer slid under the tag and set off the celebration for Neshannock. Head coach Tracy Kimmel said he was sending Altmyer, no questions asked. He said he has never had a game end on a wild pitch and if Vermilya had tossed the ball, the sophomore runner would have been out.
Neshannock led 2-0 after one inning, junior Rayanna Furst singled, Madison Shaffer bunted down the third base line, the ball got past Devin Nicholas and into the outfield grass where Katie Swartz overran the play, allowing the ball to go into the corner, both Furst and Shaffer scored on the error.
Warrior Run loaded the bases with three consecutive singles to lead off the second, with the bases loaded, senior pitcher Amanda Furst was called for an illegal pitch, that allowed Katie Swartz to score, Carissa Swartz grounded to Allie Fischer at first, that allowed Vermilya to score, knotting the game at two. Furst was able to strike out the next two hitters to keep the game tied.
The Defenders took their only lead in the third, with one out Parker doubled to right center, Jackie Clemens followed with a double to left center to put Warrior Run up 3-2. But the Lancers, as they have done in the state playoff run, bounced right back. Rayanna Furst singled, her second consecutive hit and moved to second on Shaffer's ground out. Marissa DeMatteo bunted to short, Carissa Swartz vacated her position to cover third base, the bunt reached the outfield grass allowing the runner to score and tie the game.
Neshannock had a great chance to take the lead in the fourth, Fischer led off with a single, Burrelli was hit by a pitch, after two outs, Rayanna Furst bunted for her third hit of the afternoon to load the bases. But Parker was up to the task, she had already snagged a liner by Rachel Iorio to end the second that was headed towards her kneecaps. Parker flicked the glove out like a Marc-Andre Fluery save off a liner by Shaffer to end the inning. The junior pitcher ended with eight strikeouts in the game, she has 698 k's for her career. Parker also ended the Lancers fifth inning with a runner at second, with a similar glove save on a Fischer liner.
Warrior Run stranded a runner at second in the fifth and sixth innings, the tying run was also left at second in the seventh after Parker doubled, Clemens grounded out to DeMatteo at second to end the inning. Neshannock went down in order to send the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, after one out, Vermilya popped out to catcher Iorio in foul territory, but Furst was called for her second illegal pitch to give her a second chance, she singled but was left stranded at second after two fine plays by Shaffer at third and DeMatteo at second to end the inning and set the stage for the dramatic end.
Furst struck out only two hitters, she scattered three runs on nine hits, she finishes her career with a 23-1 record this season, Furst is the only senior on the Neshannock roster, she is headed to Pitt to pursue a dental career. Her sister Rayanna was 3 for 4 and scored twice, DeMatteo was 2 for 3 with an rbi, Altmyer was 1-4 with a double. Neshannock finishes 24-1 overall, the only loss for the Lancers was in the WPIAL semifinals to Deer Lakes.
Parker allowed four runs on eight hits, with the eight k's, she has 238 for the season. Parker entered the game hitting .628, she did not disappoint, she went 3 for 4 with two doubles. Vermilya and Carra Rishel went 2 for 4, Clemens was 1 for 4 with the rbi double. On the path to Penn State, Warrior Run racked up their first three wins in state play, the Defenders also claimed their first league and District 4 championship, they finish 24-3.
Warrior Run Defenders 0 - 2 - 1 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 = 3 - 9 - 1
Neshannock Lancers 2 - 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 = 4 - 8 - 0
Winning run scored with one out in the eighth