Martindale’s blast helps carry North Allegheny softball past Norwin

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 9:21 PM

North Allegheny felt pretty relived when Rachel Martindale smacked a three-run homer Wednesday.

Problem was, the Tigers still had three more innings to hold off Norwin. They were able to do just that for an 8-4 win in a WPIAL Class 6A softball semifinals at Fox Chapel.

“It’s really special,” Martindale said. “I think it means a lot to our whole team, especially our seniors since this is what we’ve worked for. To have a chance to go get it means a lot.”

Norwin (13-8) struck first in the top of the third. Hailee Culbertson delivered a one-out single and stole second. Carly Cook reached first on a fielder’s choice. Victoria Shimko followed with a grounder that turned into a run on an errant throw on a double-play attempt.

North Allegheny (15-6) responded with three runs in the bottom of the third. Brooke Serbin and Alaina Whipkey singled, and Laura Harris walked to load the bases with one out. Regan Brodine followed with an RBI single, then Kristen Chomos drew a bases-loaded walk. Chloe Szczepaniak followed with a run-scoring single.

The Tigers could have had more, but Ashley Adams lined out to third, and the Knights doubled off a runner to end the inning.

Martindale increased North Allegheny’s lead to 6-1 with one swing in the bottom of the fourth. Lauren Haywood and Serbin singled to start the inning. After a Laura Harris sacrifice bunt, Martindale cleared the bases with a three-run blast to left.

“You could hear the difference in our team. That was exactly what we needed. It moved the momentum, which was threatening to go toward Norwin. It was perfect timing for that,” NA coach Morgan Vescovi said. “That was awesome, but the game wasn’t over and we still had a long way to go, but that took the pressure off them, for sure.”

The Knights were looking to pitch around Martindale.

“We tried to stay off the plate. It was too close to the plate, and one pitch is all it takes,” Norwin coach Brian Mesich said. “She is a good hitter, and she took advantage of it.”

Norwin responded with two runs in the top of the fifth. Culbertson and Cook singled to start the inning. They came home on Bailee Bertani’s bloop single to trim the deficit to 6-3.

Alex Dillner doubled to start the sixth and scored on a fielder’s choice to cut the Knights’ deficit to 6-4. The Tigers responded with RBI singles from Brodine and Chomos in the bottom half of the inning to push the lead to 8-4.

“They really came through there under pressure, which is exactly what we needed,” Vescovi said.

Adams picked up the pitching win. She struck out two in a little more than five innings. Audra Sape earned the save.

North Allegheny looks for its first WPIAL title since 2006 when it meets Hempfield (15-6), a 3-0 winner over Seneca Valley, in next week’s WPIAL championship game at Peterswood Park.

“They are a very good team, but we’re also good,” Martindale said. “I am very proud of what this team has done. We’ve made it, and I hope we can go out with a win.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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