Greensburg Central Catholic fends off Springdale rally to earn spot in state playoffs

Thursday, May 26, 2022 | 7:52 PM

She cranked a shot into the left-field corner and never saw the outfielder bobble the softball.

Emma Henry only had one thing on her mind when the ball left the bat and she made the turn: Keep running.

The Greensburg Central Catholic junior got the offense started with a triple that looked more like an inside-the-park home run — she ended up scoring on an error — as GCC held back Springdale, 9-6, in the WPIAL Class A third-place game Thursday at Plum.

“I saw my coach telling me to go, and I kept running,” said Henry, whose triple led off the second inning. “I didn’t even see what happened. That got us going a little bit.”

Now the Centurions (13-6) can keep running, too, into the PIAA playoffs. They have not been to the state postseason since 2012.

“We hit them last time when we played them, so I knew we had the confidence to hit,” GCC coach Mike Gaffney said of Springdale, a team GCC beat 12-5 in March.

“We knew what to expect, and that really helped us. Our girls had the right mindset coming into today and wanted to keep playing.”

Springdale (11-3), looking to make the state playoffs for the first time since 1998, turned what looked like a blowout between WPIAL semifinalists into a game.

The Dynamos trailed 9-0 after three innings before chipping away at the deficit with some late-inning offense.

But GCC, which had six extra-base hits, had built enough equity to withstand the comeback and held on to claim the consolation game.

“We weren’t ready to give up,” said Henry, who pitched a complete game while delivering a triple, double and two RBIs.

“We want to go as far as possible (in the state tournament).”

GCC will play at the District 6 champion June 6.

Sophomore Macee McGill, Henry, senior Bailey Kuhns and sophomore Grace Kindel all had RBI doubles as GCC put up four runs in the second and five more in the third.

Henry, Kuhns and Kindel had two-base hits in three straight at-bats. Kindel’s deep drive hit the fence.

“GCC and coach Gaffney have a solid team, and they did a nice job today,” Springdale coach Anthony Pototo said. “We have been in this position in the past. There is no quit in our girls. It’s been kind of our Achilles heel, not jumping on teams early.”

A pair of errors allowed Springdale to get on the board in the fourth, and freshman Ashlyn Ferderbar singled to make it 9-2.

Springdale rallied to score three times in the sixth behind a two-run homer by senior catcher Brianna Thompson.

After senior pitcher Alexis Hrivnak doubled, senior Autumn Sprouse followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 9-5.

“I feel like we ran out of innings,” Pototo said. “Things were starting to turn there. We just came up short.”

In the seventh, Thompson tripled with two outs to bring the Dynamos to within 9-6, but Henry and the defense limited any further damage.

“When you get an early lead like that, you can get complacent,” Gaffney said. “Our girls just had to hang in there. I knew they would. The WPIAL (season) is over for us. A new season starts tomorrow, and everyone is 0-0.”

Henry allowed eight hits, struck out three and walked three.

“We stayed calm after they started to come back,” Henry said.

Senior Natalie Ward had two RBIs for GCC, including an infield single that went about two feet.

She made contact, and the ball spun to a stop on the turf in front of the plate in the second.

Freshman Erica Rodriguez also doubled for GCC.

Hrivnak gave up eight hits and struck out 10. Ferderbar reached base three times for Springdale.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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