Keystone Oaks softball rallies from 7-run deficit, tops Valley in 1st round

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 | 10:57 PM

Sometimes in high school softball, that 21st out is the toughest to get.

Valley had a 7-3 lead over Keystone Oaks with two outs in the seventh inning.

But the Golden Eagles (10-10) pushed across four runs to tie the score, then scored a run in the eighth to hand Valley an 8-7 loss in a WPIAL Class 3A opening-round game at Plum.

A single by Leah Harmel in the top of the eighth scored Christina Conway with the game-winner, and senior right-hander Julia Piatt got the final out with the tying run on third.

“Our two senior captains, shortstop Gia Woods and Piatt, wouldn’t be denied,” Keystone Oaks coach Mark Kaminski said. “Julie’s about 100 pounds, and I call her a hundred pounds of heart. This team’s been doing it to me all year long. We fall behind, and I’ve got a 62-year-old heart. I don’t need that kind of stuff.”

The 10th-seeded Golden Eagles advanced to play No. 2 South Allegheny in the quarterfinals Thursday at a site and time to be determined.

The way the game started, it looked like Keystone Oaks would be ending its season. Valley scored six runs in the bottom of the first. Identical balls hit over the third-base bag by Morgan Dunkel and Haley Demharter got the Vikings on the scoreboard. A triple by Jessica Staraniec drove home two more runs to give Valley a 6-0 lead.

A double by Gabby Campana-Chambers in the second inning brought home Tori Johnson to give Valley a 7-0 advantage, and it looked like the Vikings were on their way to their first postseason win since bringing home the state championship June 17, 2011.

But Piatt slammed the door as the Golden Eagles began to chip away. Woods homered after Piatt doubled in the third. Addie Schmid hit a solo shot in the sixth to cut Valley’s lead to 7-3.

With two outs and Conway at second base in the seventh, singles by Harmel, Piatt, Woods and Schmid tied the score.

Valley went down in order in the seventh, and, behind for the first time of the afternoon in the eighth, Emily Lewandowski, the only senior in the lineup, was perched on third with two outs. But Leah Taliani bounced to third to end the game.

“We couldn’t add on,” Valley coach Carol Perroz said. “In the playoffs, you want to add on as much as you can because you never know what’s going to happen.

Said Kaminski: “We shut them down after that second inning. It’s not like we were making errors. They were hitting the ball good, but we fought back and that’s all you can ever ask. “

Valley finished 7-7. With losing just one starter, Perroz feels the future looks bright for the Vikings.

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