Elizabeth Forward softball holds on to beat Belle Vernon

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Monday, April 25, 2022 | 9:46 PM


Elizabeth Forward used two big innings, including a five-run fifth, to hang on for a 9-6 win at Belle Vernon in Section 2-4A softball Monday.

The Warriors were able to dig deep at the end and withstand a Leopards rally after seeing left fielder Maddisyn Best suffer a head and eye injury in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“It gets emotional, and it’s a tough thing like that losing a teammate,” EF coach Harry Rutherford said. “We were able to settle down and get the final outs we needed.”

The Warriors (8-1, 5-1) broke open a 3-1 game with their five spot in the fifth. Shelby Telegdy and Grace Smith led off with back-to-back singles off Leopards’ reliever Talia Ross. Ross uncorked a wild pitch and walked three of the next five batters she faced. Telegdy’s courtesy runner scored on a wild pitch before Smith came in to score on the third walk.

The order turned over and Brooke Markland made the Leopards pay with a two-run single. After Lauren Vay walked, Telegdy roped her second single of the inning – and fourth of the game – to drive in Julia Johnson with the eighth EF run.

“Too many walks hurt us. The pitching, it needs to get better,” Belle Vernon coach Tom Rodriguez said. “We weren’t hitting our spots. When the catcher is setting up outside, we need to hit that spot. If she has to come inside, they’re hitting those pitches.”

The Warriors were able to add another insurance run in the top of the seventh when Smith delivered a two-out, RBI double.

Elizabeth Forward had the 4 for 5 performance from Telegdy, along with two hits and two RBIs each from Markland and Smith.

Carlee Soukup added a pair of hits as the Warriors finished with 14 in the game.

“Trust me, I have no problems with the offense. Top to bottom, I’m very pleased with the way we smack the ball around,” Rutherford said. “But there are some things we need to do better. We need to a better job of getting runners around the bases. To have 11 runners left on base, that’s inexcusable.”

The game started with a bang in the bottom of the first inning. The highlight was Maren Metikosh earning some free Dilly Bars, slamming a solo shot off the Dairy Queen billboard in right center field.

The Leopards (4-4, 3-3) maintained their lead behind starter Olivia Kolowitz until the top of the third.

Markland, Vay and Telegdy led off the inning with three straight singles to load the bases with one out. Smith delivered the tying run with a sacrifice fly to right and Bella Gimiliano followed with a two-run single to center to make it 3-1.

Immediately after the Warriors made it 8-1, the Leopards started to chip away, picking up a run in the bottom of the fifth with a Lexi Daniels delivering an RBI single following a two-out double by Gracie Sokol.

Ashley Joll led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center and came in to score on the two-out triple by Mia Zubovic. Zubovic hammered a ball deep to left that Best was tracking, and with the wind, it likely would have been a home run.

But the ball bounced off the fence and Best collided with the fence, hitting her head off of the gold piping along the top. Best remained down while being attended to by Belle Vernon’s athletic training staff. She was helped off the field with an apparent eye and possible head injury until an ambulance arrived.

Rutherford said she was taken by ambulance to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“It was a very scary situation. It’s hard to come back seeing a teammate go down like that with an ambulance called,” Rutherford said. “It took us a while to recover from that, I think, but we were able to take care of the job at hand.”

The Leopards made things interesting in the bottom half of the seventh, plating three runs before the Warriors were able to get the final out.

Daniels delivered Belle Vernon’s second homer of the game to make it 8-4. Abby Fabin singled and Metikosh reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Joll delivered with a triple down the left-field line to score Fabin and Metikosh before Telegdy was able to strike out Ava Zubovic and force Lauren VanDivner to line out to right to end the game.

“I thought we hit the ball hard and Brooke did a great job of fielding her position at short that took away a couple hits and maybe some runs from them,” Rutherford said. “We took care of business, but we had a chance to really come in her and send a message to the other teams in the section. We were up 9-1. We ended up 9-6. That’s not putting the other teams on notice like we had a chance to do.”

Kolowitz took the loss for the Leopards. She allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out five. Ross struck out six and walked six. She allowed six runs on six hits.

Telegdy was the winner for EF, allowing five earned runs and striking out five. She walked four.

The Leopards travel to Laurel Highlands on Tuesday, while the Warriors will host the Mustangs on Wednesday.

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