A-K Valley softball notebook: Dramatic win was worth wait for Deer Lakes

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 7:43 PM

Things didn’t go as planned for the Deer Lakes softball team in a 6-3 section loss at Valley in Section 1-3A on April 9.

The setback stopped a three-game winning streak to start the season.

The Lancers hoped to quickly get back on track, but an April 12 section game against Shady Side Academy was scrapped because of rain. Then, the team went on a covid pause that lasted until Sunday, wiping out an additional section game and several practices.

Deer Lakes returned Monday with one day of practice ahead of Tuesday’s home section clash with North Catholic.

While the game with the Trojanettes didn’t start out the way the Lancers had hoped, the dramatic finish was cause for celebration.

Deer Lakes rallied from a 5-1 deficit with five runs in the fifth. Then, after North Catholic scored to tie the game in the top of the seventh, it was the Lancers’ turn to make a play.

Reese Hasley’s one-out double in the bottom of the inning scored Hannah Mass from third to complete a 7-6 win.

“I was extremely happy with the way the girls stuck together for that win,” coach Rick Cerra said. “The first pitch of that game was a stand-up triple for North Catholic. After having six days off and only having one practice, that wasn’t a good start. Down 5-1, the girls kept batting, which was something I needed them to do. That really showed the character of this team. We needed something good to happen to get back in the flow for the rest of the season.”

Deer Lakes, 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the section, hosts Shady Side Academy on Thursday before visiting Derry on Friday.

More drama

The Deer Lakes-North Catholic game wasn’t the only softball walk-off in the Alle-Kiski Valley on Tuesday. Knoch scored in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Freeport, 6-5.

Taylor Davis’ game-winning single on a 1-2 count gave the Knights their third victory in a row, all in Section 1-4A play.

Bailey Rickenbrode picked up the win in relief and also smashed a grand slam in the third inning that turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 advantage. Freeport scored twice in the top of the fifth to tie the game, setting up the last inning.

Olivia Vissari collected two of Knoch’s eight hits, while Emily Schmidt had two hits and two RBIs for Freeport.

The Section 1 race is heating up with Knoch in front at 4-1. With Burrell’s win over Highlands on Tuesday, the Bucs and Golden Rams are tied for second at 3-2. Freeport now is 2-2, and Greensburg Salem checks in at 2-3.

Victorious Vikings

Apollo-Ridge is off to a 5-1-1 start with a 5-1 mark in Section 2-2A play.

The only team ahead in the section standings is WPIAL newcomer Ligonier Valley (6-0, 6-0).

The Vikings, who tied Highlands in the season opener March 26 and suffered a close 4-2 section loss to Seton LaSalle four days later, has ripped off five in a row and has done it averaging 13.4 runs per game.

The latest win came Monday in an 11-4 thumping of Serra Catholic.

Freshman Camdyn Kowalczyk belted a home run as part of an 11-hit attack and finished with five RBIs, while senior Casey Weightman added a triple and struck out 10 to pick up the win.

Sophomore April Earnest also drove in two runs for the Vikings.

It’s been a special spring on more than one front for Weightman, who set the school record in the girls javelin (122 feet, 2 inches) in a track and field meet against Saltsburg on March 30.

Apollo-Ridge is slated to host a rematch with Seton LaSalle on Thursday before visiting Ligonier Valley on Monday.

Blue Devils playoff push

Leechburg is well on its way to claiming a 34th straight WPIAL playoff appearance with a 4-0 record in Section 3-A.

Senior Emma Ritchie and sophomore Anna Cibik have been a 1-2 punch from the pitching circle, while senior McKenna Pierce had led the way at the plate with a .571 average (12 of 21) with four home runs, three doubles and 13 runs batted in.

Cibik (.474), junior Tatum Verner (.429) and Richie (.400) are also among the team batting leaders, while sophomore Karli Mazak has reached double digits in RBIs with 10.

With Tuesday’s 12-0 win over St. Joseph, Leechburg is riding a four-game streak where it is outscoring its opponents by a combined 55-0.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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