Kelly Nitowski’s grand slam leads Burrell softball over Deer Lakes

Friday, April 27, 2018 | 12:15 AM

Burrell is putting Denny's on notice. The Bucs specialize in grand slams, too.

Kelly Nitowski became the latest to clear the bases after clearing the wall, hitting a grand slam and driving in six runs as Burrell beat host Deer Lakes, 12-4, in a Section 1-3A game Thursday afternoon.

“I didn't even know it went over the fence until my first-base coach jumped up in the air, and I didn't know that the bases were loaded,” Nitowski said, laughing. “(My teammates told me), and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I hit a grand slam!' ”

Lea Coffman added a three-run homer and four RBIs for Burrell (7-2, 6-1), which swept the season series against Deer Lakes for the first time since 2010 and remained a half-game behind first-place Freeport (8-0, 6-0) heading into Friday's home contest against South Allegheny (9-4, 4-3).

“It feels really good because we haven't beat them two times since I've been on the team since a freshman, and it was our goal this year to beat them,” Nitowski said. “When we (beat them 12-2) the first time, we were really psyched. And we just wanted to come back and not let up and give it back to them.”

Nitowski became the third Burrell player this season to hit a grand slam, joining Kayla Santucci and Elizabeth Clark — the latter of which came in the first meeting with Deer Lakes. She finished 4 for 4, coming within a triple of the cycle. Burrell scored four runs in the third, five in the fourth and three in the sixth.

“When we start getting hits, we build momentum off of each other,” Coffman said. “That's how we get those big innings.”

After a scoreless first two innings, Burrell broke through in the third. Two walks and an error loaded the bases for Coffman, who delivered a sacrifice fly. Nitowski followed with a two-run double that just eluded diving centerfielder Maura Cerra, and Charlie Confer added an RBI double.

After a Santucci RBI double, Burrell again loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, and Nitowski made it count, her fly ball getting over the wall in left-center — even though she needed her teammates to tell her it was a grand slam.

Coffman hit an opposide-field three-run homer in the sixth to make it 12-1. It was more than enough run support for Brittany Dunn, who struck out 10 and limited Deer Lakes to five hits.

Six-time defending section champion Deer Lakes (2-5, 1-5) suffered its fourth consecutive loss. Katelynn Blair drove in a pair of runs, but the Lancers couldn't overcome Burrell's big innings.

“The curse of the big inning,” Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. “It's hard when you give up five runs in an inning. That's a tough thing to come back fromwhen you're not scoring runs in bunches.”

Deer Lakes scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth and another in the seventh, but Burrell and Dunn made sure the Lancers couldn't make a significant comeback. Clark snared Dani Huffman's deep fly ball for the final out.

“(Deer Lakes) didn't give up, and they fought to the end,” Burrell coach Brian Eshbaugh said. “The last six outs are the hardest outs to get. Till you get that last out, nothing's assured.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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