Armstrong leads Burrell softball to mercy-rule victory over Deer Lakes

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023 | 9:03 PM


Second place in Section 1-3A was on the line Wednesday as the Deer Lakes and Burrell softball teams met at Bon Air Elementary in Lower Burrell.

It was the second matchup between the teams in three days.

The Bucs won a low-scoring two-run affair Monday.

The rematch was not as close.

Burrell scored one in the first, three in the second, five in the fourth and one more in the sixth en route to a 10-0 mercy-rule victory.

“The girls hit the ball today, and that was nice to see,” Burrell coach Rick Nealer said. “Deer Lakes is a really good playoff team.”

Burrell, which played four section contests in five days, bounced back from Tuesday’s tough 2-1 loss to section champion Avonworth. The Bucs finish 7-3 in the section and head to the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

“We’re going to practice hard over the next three days and continue to concentrate on hitting,” Nealer said. “We want to keep our focus and be as sharp as we can for the playoffs. It’s time to work even harder. The girls are really coming together, and I think they can match up well with whoever we play.”

The WPIAL playoff pairings and brackets are slated to be released at 7 p.m. Thursday on TribLive HSSN.

Deer Lakes capped its section slate at 6-4 and is 9-5 heading into an exhibition game Friday at Class 5A Kiski Area. The Lancers had put themselves in position to go for second place in the section with an 11-3 victory over Valley on Tuesday.

“It was a tough game today,” Deer Lakes coach Rick Cerra said. “Katie Armstrong is a great pitcher, and she was on today.”

Both games between the Bucs and Lancers this week were rescheduled from their original dates.

Deer Lakes entered Wednesday’s game without junior starting pitcher and leading hitter Maddie Kee, who attended a French honors society event.

Coach Cerra said Kee arrived in the fifth inning, and she entered the game as a pinch hitter before settling in at first base. Armstrong got the better of Kee with a strikeout.

Deer Lakes junior catcher Tia Germanich, Cerra said, was injured Tuesday against Valley. She tried to go Wednesday, but she had to leave the game after two innings.

Cerra couldn’t say if Germanich would be recovered in time for the Lancers’ first playoff game.

Armstrong finished the game with nine strikeouts and two hits allowed. She retired the first 11 batters before Sophia Laurenza beat out an infield single with one out in the fourth.

Deer Lakes’ No. 9 hitter Laney Dineff doubled with one out in the sixth, but she was left stranded.

Armstrong struck out 22 and surrendered just four hits in the two games against the Lancers.

Burrell took a multi-run lead after two innings, scoring four runs on three hits off Deer Lakes starter Tira Waksmonski.

All four Bucs runs were unearned because of three Deer Lakes errors.

Burrell shortstop Pyper Ferres doubled home a run in the top of the first. Armstrong had the big hit in the second as she singled with the bases loaded and two outs to make it 4-0.

Waksmonski gave way to reliever Sienna Plummer in the third, and Plummer handed the pitching reins to Dineff in the fifth.

Burrell, which finished with 12 hits, added to its lead with five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Bella Stewart and Armstrong recorded run-scoring singles before sophomore third baseman Brae Jones delivered the big shot with a three-run homer to right to make it 9-0.

Jones recorded her third hit of the game and fourth RBI in the sixth. Armstrong led off with a single, and courtesy runner Tina Gural stole second.

With one out, Jones singled to center to score Gural to immediately end the game.

Armstrong also finished with three hits.

“We’ve worked really hard all season, and I am proud of all the girls who have helped get us to where we are,” Jones said. “Deer Lakes is a good team, and that was a good team win.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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