No. 2 Leechburg rebounds from 1st loss, defeats No. 3 Springdale

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019 | 8:18 PM


The Leechburg softball team had a quick turnaround after suffering its first loss of the season, a nonsection setback to Apollo-Ridge on Monday.

The Blue Devils came back Tuesday and took advantage of the opportunity to get back on track with a 12-2 victory over Springdale in a Section 3-A matchup at Gilpin Park.

“We were talking before the game that (Monday’s game) was such a bad feeling because it was our first loss,” Leechburg coach Debbie Young said. “Had we had a loss earlier in the season, it would’ve been a different feeling. That didn’t feel or look like our team, but I give credit to Apollo-Ridge. They played very well.

“It was excellent to come back today and make a statement the way we did.”

Leechburg (11-1, 9-0) clinched its 33rd straight trip to the WPIAL playoffs Monday with section losses by both Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic.

The No. 2-ranked Blue Devils return to the field Thursday at home against section rival St. Joseph. The teams play again Friday.

Springdale (7-2, 4-2) is scheduled to play section doubleheaders against Ellis (Thursday) and Geibel (Friday).

The Dynamos, No. 3 in this week’s Class A rankings, also are slated to play two section games Monday, one each against Jeannette and St. Joseph.

“We’re going to come back in practice (Wednesday) and continue to work hard and concentrate on the little things,” Springdale coach Anthony Pototo said. “This game is over. We still have a good record, and we played well Monday against (Greensburg Central Catholic).”

Springdale played its second game in as many days after a 19-day layoff because of weather-related postponements and cancellations.

Tuesday’s game began in the midst of a steady rain. But the field held up, and the precipitation soon gave way to clear skies.

Leechburg scored once in the first, once in the second, twice in the third and once in the fourth. After Springdale plated two runs in the top of the fifth, the Blue Devils exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the frame to evoke the 10-run mercy rule.

“The thing about Leechburg is that you have to be ready to face every batter in the lineup,” Pototo said. “They have hitters, and they all put the ball in play. Things started to snowball in that fifth inning.”

Leechburg collected nine hits, and leadoff hitter and catcher Kristen Knapp led the way with a home run and three runs batted in. McKenna Pierce homered, doubled and knocked in two, while Olivia Shimer singled home two in the game-deciding fifth.

“It was a really close game (in the fifth), and I was really proud of our team for stepping up,” Knapp said.

Emma Ritchie picked up the win for Leechburg. She gave up five hits and eight walks, but only two Springdale batters were able to come around to score.

Natalie Woitas and Anna Harmon each recorded RBI singles for the Dynamos.

“The rain had Emma a little nervous early on, and she was a little apprehensive,” Young said. “I don’t know if she had ever played in the rain before. She found the strike zone of the umpire and was able to settle down.”

Grace Reinke made her season debut for Leechburg after recovering from an ankle injury. As the designated player, she drew a walk in her only plate appearance before exiting the contest after the second inning.

“She was a little nervous and tentative running in the muck,” Young said. “But, she’s been fully cleared, and it was great to get her up there and get her on (base). She got the feeling.”

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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