Furious rally falls short as Leechburg softball falls to DuBois Central Catholic

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Monday, June 7, 2021 | 9:10 PM


Things didn’t start out well for the Leechburg softball team in Monday’s PIAA Class A first-round game against DuBois Central Catholic at Heindl Field in DuBois.

The District 9 champion Cardinals scored 13 runs over the first two innings and kept the Blue Devils off the scoreboard.

Leechburg didn’t fold its tent, however, and mounted a rally.

The comeback fell short as DCC posted a 14-9 victory to advance in the state tournament.

“I couldn’t be more proud to coach this group of girls,” Blue Devils coach Debbie Young said. “You look at the score at the beginning of the game, and you think that it might be over in three innings. They just kept battling. We made a change at pitcher, and the girls made changes at (the plate).”

DCC (20-2) will play District 6 champion Glendale in the quarterfinals Thursday.

Leechburg, with five seniors in the starting lineup and six overall, caps its season at 13-6.

Senior Emma Ritchie started for Leechburg and surrendered seven hits and six earned runs. DCC catcher Mia Meholick hit a solo home run to lead off the second, and Young decided to make a change in the circle and go with sophomore Anna Cibik.

After giving up five hits and five runs, two of them earned, in the second, Cibik settled down.

She gave up just one hit and one run over the final four innings and retired the final nine Cardinals batters she faced.

“We knew what kind of team we were coming up against, so we talked about not hanging on one pitcher too long knowing we have two pitchers who are capable,” Young said. “I didn’t think (Ritchie) was doing bad when we pulled her. I just think (DCC) needed to see something different, and it worked for us.”

While the DCC bats were quelled in the latter innings, Leechburg’s hitters came alive.

The Blue Devils scored twice in the top of the third. Sky Raypush and Olivia Shimer both singled to start the frame.

McKenna Pierce followed with a single to score Raypush, and then Shimer came home from third on a double steal attempt.

After going down in order in the fourth, Leechburg sent 12 batters to the plate in the fifth and scored seven runs on six hits. Shimer (2), Ritchie, Bella Vozar, Madison Hanan and Karli Mazak each tallied RBIs.

“This is a game of momentum, and, offensively, we had that momentum over the first couple of innings and were hitting the ball well,” DCC coach George Heigel said. “On the flip side, the negative momentum took over, and we started to boot the ball around a little bit, and (Leechburg was) hitting the ball like I knew they could. But (DCC starter) Morgan (Tyler) persevered.”

Mazak finished with three hits to lead the Blue Devils, who ended with 13 as a team off of Tyler. Pierce, Ritchie, Vozar and Raypush added two hits apiece.

DCC shortstop Jessy Frank, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, doubled twice and drove in four runs. Right fielder Emma Suplizio added a pair of RBIs.

“We just kept telling them to keep fighting and have fun,” Young said. “That’s our mantra from the beginning. I have a handbook, and in the handbook it says that if you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be playing. They were fine, and I’m just amazed.”

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

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