Carmichaels softball routs Leechburg in Class A quarterfinals

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Thursday, May 18, 2023 | 8:28 PM


The Carmichaels softball team scored 10 or more runs in 13 of its 16 regular-season games.

The Mighty Mikes offense was mighty again Thursday in a WPIAL Class A quarterfinals game against Leechburg at Gateway.

The No. 2 seed pounded out 16 hits as eight of the nine in the lineup collected at least one hit in a 13-3 victory over the Blue Devils, halted in the bottom of the sixth because of the 10-run mercy rule.

“A lot of the teams we’ve faced this year, they’re ready for the first three or four batters, but up and down the lineup, we’ve been able to produce hits and get on base,” said senior Carlee Roberts, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup who doubled three times in the win, drew a walk, drove in two runs and scored twice.

“Opposing pitchers and defenses can’t relax. We work hard, and we feed off each other. It’s a great feeling to do that in a game, and it was a great win today.”

Carmichaels, which improved to 17-0, will face a familiar foe in No. 3 Frazier (14-1) in the semifinals on a date, time and location to be determined.

The Mighty Mikes and Commodores were section foes in Class 2A before both dropped down for this season. Frazier shut out Carmichaels both times last year.

A nonsection game at Frazier from April 25 was postponed and not rescheduled.

“We’re talented, but young, and there were some nerves out there at the start,” Mighty Mikes coach Dave Briggs said of Thursday’s playoff opener.

“There were a couple of blunders on the bases, and hopefully, we’re over that. But up and down the lineup, we hit and we saw some good pitching in our section. Our section is pretty tough, and it helped us prepare for the playoffs.”

The win also secured a spot in the state playoffs as the PIAA takes four teams from Class A.

It was a tough final game of the season for No. 7 Leechburg, which finished 11-8.

It was especially emotional for seniors Karli Mazak and Anna Cibik, who played their final games in a Blue Devils uniform.

“It was honestly a great season,” said Cibik, who was in her usual spot within the pitching circle.

“One game doesn’t take away from that. The team exceeded my expectations. We’re a young team, and several of the girls in the lineup hadn’t played in a varsity game before this year. A lot of the girls stepped up. I am grateful for them, not only as players but as people, and I am really going to miss them.”

Mazak singled to lead off the game, one of just three hits the Leechburg offense tallied against Mighty Mikes freshman Bailey Barnyak. Mazak also drew a pair of walks to reach base all three times at the plate.

Cibik, in addition to the 16 hits allowed, struck out eight and walked four. Of the 13 Carmichaels runs, nine were earned. Leechburg committed four errors in the game.

At the plate, Cibik went 1 for 3 with a single.

“The two seniors, they carried us all throughout the season,” Leechburg first-year coach Larry Troutman said. “They are great leaders and are great passers of the torch for Leechburg softball.”

Barnyak, in her first varsity playoff game, walked four batters and hit two others in addition to the three hits allowed. But she also struck out 14 and worked out of some jams.

“The last couple of innings she seemed to really settle down,” Briggs said. “She did well.”

Leechburg got the leadoff runner on base in each of the first five innings but only did scoring damage in the top of the third.

Junior Laney Aul and Mazak drew walks in the inning, and Cibik tallied her single with two outs.

Sophomore Ava Ferretti, the Blue Devils’ first baseman and cleanup hitter, then blooped a two-out single into shallow right. The ball skipped past the Carmichaels right fielder. All three runs scored, and Ferretti ended up on third.

That drew Leechburg to within 7-3.

“We just left too many runners on base,” Troutman said. “The plan was to come in and score runs early and see what we could do. We got Karli on with the hit to lead off the first but couldn’t get her in. That wasn’t a good sign.

“They have a really good young pitcher and a talented team, but we made too many mistakes and didn’t take advantage of several opportunities to score runs.”

Carmichaels, which scored once in the first and broke it open with six more in the second, pulled away with one in the third, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and the game-finisher in the bottom of the sixth.

Catcher Kaitlyn Waggett led off the sixth with a walk, and Roberts doubled. No. 9 hitter Megan Voithofer, a junior, ended the game with one of her three singles to score Waggett.

The 7-9 hitters in the Carmichaels lineup finished 7 of 10 with four doubles and eight runs scored.

Mighty Mikes sophomore first baseman and cleanup hitter Ali Jacobs went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, and senior Sophia Zalar collected three hits, including a double. Sophomore Ashton Batis added two hits.

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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