Keystone Oaks slugs past No. 3 Burrell in WPIAL quarterfinals

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Monday, May 20, 2019 | 7:51 PM


The Burrell softball team won its final 12 games of the regular season, captured the Section 1-3A championship and earned the No. 3 seed for the WPIAL playoffs. However, none of that mattered to Keystone Oaks on Monday in a WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal matchup at Hampton Community Park.

The No. 6 Golden Eagles collected 14 hits, and an eight-run fifth inning punctuated a 14-1 victory that was halted after five innings.

“These girls really back up each other and hit the ball,” Keystone Oaks coach Mark Kaminski said.

“(Burrell) also made a few mistakes, and we took advantage of them. If you put the ball in play on a hard infield like (Hampton), anything can happen.”

Keystone Oaks (12-5) returns to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since 2014. It will take on No. 10 Ellwood City on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

Burrell’s season comes to a close at 13-3.

“The girls are excited and ready to go (for the semifinals),” Kaminski said. “I still feel the only team that is going to beat us is us. They’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Golden Eagles’ 14 runs Monday followed a 16-run outburst against North Catholic in the first round.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on offense in practice,” said KO third baseman Jess LaPorte, who collected RBI singles in the first and third innings to help fuel the attack.

“The hitting is really contagious right now.”

Keystone Oaks led 6-1 heading to the fifth, and all eight runs in the inning came with two outs. The first two Golden Eagles batters were retired, but the next 11 reached base on six hits, four walks and a hit batter.

“It was the worst time to have our worst game of the year, unfortunately, and the girls know,” Burrell coach Brian Eshbaugh said. “The girls were a little tight for the first couple of innings, and they just couldn’t recover.”

Sophia Piatt led Keystone Oaks with three RBIs, and Sierra LaDonne and Bri Butler added two RBIs apiece.

Burrell broke through in the bottom of the fourth as Elizabeth Clark singled, moved to second on a throwing error, to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out to second off the bat of Caroline Dynka.

The Bucs had chances to get on the board earlier in the game. They left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and had runners tagged out at third with fewer than two outs in both the second and third frames.

“That was encouraging because we were getting runners on base,” Eshbaugh said. “To keep us down to one run, they did a great job.”

Butler picked up the pitching win for Keystone Oaks. She gave up six hits, walked two and struck out four in five innings.

Burrell scored 10 or more runs 10 times during the regular season.

Caroline Dynka suffered the loss in the circle for the Bucs.

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

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