A-K Valley notebook: No rest for No. 3 Leechburg softball

Saturday, April 13, 2019 | 11:01 PM

What’s a softball team to do after an 18-run victory that requires just three innings to complete?

Leechburg decided to practice.

It has been that kind of spring for the Blue Devils (6-0, 5-0), ranked No. 3 in the Tribune-Review’s Class A rankings. They outscored their first five opponents by a 73-2 tally, putting the mercy rule into effect at all times. They registered back-to-back three-inning wins, 23-0 over Ellis School and 18-0 over Geibel.

It made Wednesday’s 19-11 Section 3-A win over No. 4 Springdale, in a game where Leechburg overcame a five-run deficit, all the more important for the Blue Devils.

“I’m so glad that actually went the way it did,” Leechburg coach Debbie Young said. “There’s a couple things we wish we could take back as far as walking, but that comes with growing.”

Young considered the game especially important for the growth of sophomore pitcher Emma Ritchie, in her first full-time season after replacing four-year starter Morgan Pierce. Ritchie struggled at times against Springdale, walking 10 batters and yielding 11 runs, but buckled down by blanking the Dynamos (6-1, 3-1) over the final three innings. Young said she never considered removing Ritchie.

“I wasn’t really feeling down on myself, just a little nervous — like really nervous,” Ritchie said. “But we did a really good job hitting, so I’m really proud.

“This was the most walks that I’ve ever had in a game this year. So, I was just really happy with how the outcome came. And I know that my teammates are there, but I just get shaky and all that.”

Springdale coach Anthony Pototo said the loss also could help his team. Similar to Leechburg, the Dynamos beat five of their first six opponents by 10 runs or more.

“I was very proud of my girls,” Pototo said. “We were up and they came back, and we battled back and (retook the lead). We kept on keeping our head in the game and things like that, and I truly believe that it was just a great learning experience.”

Major-league moment

Highlands will take part in a nice rite of spring Sunday when the Golden Rams play a nonsection game at PNC Park against Seneca Valley at 2 p.m.

For one game, the Golden Rams will live out their MLB dreams as they play at the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. They played Bethel Park last season at PNC Park, falling 6-3.

“It’s a cool environment, just going up and playing on that major league field,” senior Noah Gillette said. “It’s a lot different, but it’s also the same. You don’t really realize until you’re out there. At first it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m actually playing here,’ but then you’ve just got to put that beside you and just play the game.”

Gearing up

Two Alle-Kiski Valley youth organizations will receive new baseball and softball equipment donated through a partnership between the Pittsburgh Pirates, The Tull Family Foundation and Pitch In for Baseball and Softball.

The Allegheny Valley Little League and Leechburg Little League are among the 16 organizations which will get the equipment, including gloves, bats, batting helmets, baseballs and softballs, catching gear, cleats, team bags and tees.

The 16 organizations chosen represent more than 1,300 players across four counties, and the donated gear is valued at more than $50,000.

Good Knights

A pair of Knoch senior athletes made their college commitments official last week, as Jarrett Bricker signed to play football at Westminster and Chase Mullen signed with Marietta for lacrosse.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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