Defense leads Upper St. Clair past Mt. Lebanon in Section 1-6A
By: Don Rebel
Monday, May 6, 2019 | 10:58 PM
If defense wins championship, the Class 6A softball playoff field should take note that the new kids on the block are ready to battle for gold.
Upper St. Clair was near perfect defensively, with web gems and big throws highlighting a 3-0 win Monday over rival Mt. Lebanon.
The win completes the Section 1-6A schedule for the Panthers (12-5, 10-4), who clinched their first playoff berth in 20 years.
“We’re checking our boxes,” Upper St. Clair coach Bill Aguglia said. “The first one was to make the playoffs, and we did that. I think we are hitting our stride at the right time. I really think we can make some noise in the playoffs, and we’re all very excited about it.”
Aguglia also was excited about his defense, which made big plays all evening.
In a scoreless top of the second, Kate Barone laid down a one-out bunt with Ella Keebler at first base. USC third baseman Maddie Andrejcik fielded the bunt and threw out Barone at first.
Panthers first baseman Alex Wunderlich then gunned the ball to second, and Keebler was caught making the turn for a 5-3-4 double play.
“The best one was the first one when we got the girl on the back door on the bunt,” Aguglia said. “We practice that all the time, even in our warm-ups.”
Then, trailing 3-0 in the top of the sixth inning, the Blue Devils had Paige Snedden at third base and Madeline Ritenour at first with nobody out. Emily Amato hit a ground ball to third base where Andrecjcik checked the runner and threw to first for the out. Wunderlich then made another great throw to the plate to get the speedy Snedden for a 5-3-2 double play.
Finally, in the seventh inning, Mt. Lebanon had two straight singles with one out when Grace Gooden singled up the middle. Olivia Hamel tried to score from second, but Panthers center fielder Kelly Dawson threw a rope to home plate for an 8-2 out.
“I’ll put our defense against anybody,” Aguglia said. “Today, we had three or four really good plays that kind of exemplified that.”
After the Panthers’ first run scored on a throwing error in the second inning, Karri Albertini and Grace Swigart delivered RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings.
Junior Danielle Orendi had three of the USC’s six hits and was the winning pitcher, allowing seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
Mt. Lebanon (5-10, 4-10) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.