Fox Chapel softball gives up big lead before winning in 7th inning

Friday, April 30, 2021 | 8:43 PM

After three innings of Friday’s Section 3-5A matchup with Mars, the Fox Chapel softball team held a six-run lead and hoped to add on.

However, the visiting Planets mounted a comeback and tied the score in the top of the seventh.

But the Foxes prevailed as pitcher Mackenzie Borkovich delivered a single up the middle to score Brynn Palmer with no outs in the bottom of the seventh to seal a 7-6 walk-off victory.

“This was a really big section win for us,” said Borkovich, who also struck out 17. “We have some big games coming up next week, and this gives us a lot of momentum.”

Fox Chapel bounced back from consecutive losses to Hampton, 11-4, and North Hills, 6-0, to complete the season sweep of Mars and improve to 8-4 overall and 4-3 in section play.

The victory also clinched a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

The Foxes now look ahead to three section games in as many days to close their schedule, starting with Monday’s rematch with Hampton.

Fox Chapel hosts Shaler on Tuesday and caps the stretch at Oakland Catholic on Wednesday.

“This was a great win for the girls coming off two tough losses where we weren’t hitting the ball really well,” Fox Chapel coach Chris Olbrich said.

“They came around and started to put the ball in play. They like to get a whole bunch of runs at the beginning and give me a heart attack at the end, but we needed this one for the playoffs. The girls kept battling through some adversity in the later innings and got the job done in the end.”

Palmer led off the seventh with an infield single on a high chopper between first and second base. A throwing attempt to get Palmer at first skipped past the bag and hit off the fence in front of the first-base dugout allowing her to advance to second.

Borkovich fouled off a number of pitches before getting one she was able to shoot into center field.

Fox Chapel collected 10 hits, with Neena Pietropaolo leading the way with three. She got a four-run first inning started with a one-out single.

Amelia Herzer followed with a triple to score Pietropaolo for a 1-0 lead. Hunter Taylor and Borkovich walked and scored runs, and Riley Culleiton smacked an RBI single for the fourth run of the frame.

Taylor singled to lead off the third and scored on a Palmer double, and Culleiton grounded out to short to plate Palmer for a 6-0 Fox Chapel lead.

Mars started its comeback in the top of the fourth as Danielle Bednar led off with a single and came around to score on a single from Julia Maple.

Taylor Schmitt and Madison Buss reached to begin the top of the fifth, and Planets pitcher Kali Harris brought both of them home with a home run to center to cut the Foxes advantage to 6-4.

“She’s a great hitter, and she’s burned me a couple of times,” Borkovich said of Harris. “She had a great game for them. She pitched really well, too.”

Harris struck out five and walked five in seven innings.

Maple struck again in the top of the seventh as she produced a one-out double to bring Mars to within one at 6-5. A groundout to third by Olivia Waldrop then brought home the tying run.

Borkovich was able to work out of a couple of jams with strikeouts in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Mars left a total of seven runners on base in those innings.

“It was huge for the girls to be able to battle back the way they did,” said Planets coach Michele Goodworth, who saw her team fall to 2-6 in section and 4-9 overall.

“We came in (Friday) hoping to rattle things up a little bit in the section. That is the attitude for the rest of the season while looking to finish the section on a good note. The girls have kept fighting. I am proud of that.”

Borkovich’s 17-strikeout effort is not her best this season. She fanned 19 in a 10-inning, 1-0 victory over Burrell on March 29 and followed that with 19 against Peters Township on April 6. She has 152 strikeouts over 80 innings in 12 games.

“We didn’t field behind her as well as we wanted to a couple of times,” Olbrich said. “She was able dig down deep and get a couple of key strikeouts. She’s a bulldog and really battles out there.”

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

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