Leechburg softball blanks Springdale to stay in section title hunt

Friday, May 7, 2021 | 8:32 PM

After defeating Leechburg last week in walk-off fashion, Springdale was looking to wrap up its first section title since 1998 on Friday.

But instead, Leechburg made the most of five Springdale errors and rolled to a 7-0 victory at Gilpin-Leechburg Park.

Senior Emma Ritchie yielded just one hit and retired the last 14 batters she faced as the Blue Devils (8-4, 6-1), No. 3 in this week’s Trib HSSN Class A rankings, handed the No. 2 Dynamos (9-3, 7-1) their first Section 3 loss.

Leechburg is a half-game behind Springdale in the section standings.

“We really analyzed the last game we lost to them and figured where weaknesses lie and what we needed to do as far as hitting,” Blue Devils coach Debbie Young said. “So we focused on that, and it definitely worked. The girls are great listeners, and they really did exactly what we asked them to do.”

Each team had a runner thrown out attempting to steal third early in the game as it figured to be a low-scoring battle between Ritchie and Dynamos junior Alexis Hrivnak.

Leechburg got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third when Skylyn Rapush singled, stole second and, with two out, scored when a pop-up was dropped along the first-base line.

Things really unraveled for Springdale in the fourth when four infield errors led to four runs as Leechburg sent eight batters to the plate. All four runs scored after two were out.

“Anytime you play Leechburg, they’re a good team and they’re coached well,” said Dynamos coach Anthony Pototo. “They’re solid from top to bottom. We had a bad inning. It happens, and their runs were generated by our mistakes.”

Leechburg concluded the scoring with two runs the more conventional way in the fifth. Ritchie led off with a walk and Tatum Verner singled. Anna Cibik bunted both runners up. Ritchie scored on a groundout to second, and Verner came home on Madison Hanan’s single.

Miranda Shock’s infield single in the third proved to be Springdale’s only hit.

“She was hot on her game today,” Young said. “I am so proud of her pitching where we asked her to pitch and doing exactly what we asked her do.”

Springdale, however, remains on track to grab at least a share of section honors.

Said Pototo: “I just got done telling them they have to shake it off. No worries. We just have to take care of business Monday at Northgate and Tuesday at St. Joe’s. The girls have already forgotten about it. As soon as we get on the bus, it’s over with.”

Leechburg’s final section game will be Tuesday at Ellis School. The two games left with Riverview may not be played. Leechburg was at least hoping to have one game with the 0-5 Raiders.

The WPIAL might have to decide if the two games against Riverview are considered forfeits and if the Blue Devils and Springdale finish with one loss each – against each other – if both schools would get a section plaque.

Also, both schools are hoping to get top four seeds in the WPIAL playoffs. The softball committee will meet late next week to decide the brackets.

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