Shaler scores walk-off win over Franklin Regional in WPIAL Class 5A 1st round

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Monday, May 13, 2024 | 8:11 PM


With one swing and a sharp ping to center, trepidation turned to triumph for Alyssa Schaffold.

The Shaler sophomore cracked a bases-loaded single up the middle to score junior Olivia Sachs in the bottom of the seventh as the fifth-seeded Titans walked off No. 12 Franklin Regional, 3-2, in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A softball playoffs Monday at Plum.

“I was so nervous … terrified,” said Schaffold, who was 3 for 4. “I didn’t hit the ball in the (at-bat) before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took a pitch inside, then a got one down the middle and hit it.”

Shaler (15-3), which continues to win despite the loss of sophomore ace pitcher Bria Bosiljevac (hand injury), advances to play No. 4 Penn-Trafford (13-5) in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Penn-Trafford edged past No. 13 Bethel Park, 3-2.

Shaler was a WPIAL semifinalist and PIAA finalist last season.

Franklin Regional (10-9) is tired of seeing Shaler in the playoffs. That is three straight losses to the Titans in the tournament, including two in the first round and last year in the quarterfinals.

The Panthers had chances to score runs but were mostly limited offensively.

“We made some mistakes, but we’re young and learning,” Panthers coach Jim Armstrong said. “It’s tough because that was such a good game. There were some things we could have done better. Once teams get past our two best hitters in our lineup, it’s tough.”

Those hitters are juniors Toryn Fulton and Ciara Camacho.

Fulton, a .600 hitter who was held hitless, came up in the top of the sixth with one out but was intentionally walked for the 10th time this season. After a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Adrianna Martz, Shaler sophomore pitcher Taylor London recorded a strikeout with runners at second and third.

“We were really hoping to get Toryn up there,” Armstrong said.

London was solid, allowing two hits and striking out seven.

Camacho homered in the third to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead. She also made a terrific throw from right to third base in the third inning to cancel out a potential run.

Surprisingly, her homer was the only one of the game on Plum’s tiny field, known for giving up long balls.

“We don’t score a lot of runs,” Shaler coach Tom Sorce said. “We try to scratch out one or two. Our strength is not the long ball. As long as we score one more than them.

“Losing Bri is huge, no question, but Taylor did a great job today in her first playoff game.”

London opened the seventh with a walk to sophomore Olivia Cowell, and freshman Myla Brinker came in to run for her. Sophomore Chloe Lancaster, who was the losing pitcher, dropped down a bunt to move Brinker to second. Brinker overran the bag, though, and got caught in a rundown and was tagged out.

Sachs singled to start the Titans’ seventh but ended up at third after sophomore Jayla Antomachi’s sac bunt led to a throwing error.

Both teams had two errors.

Armstrong intentionally walked junior Ella Nash to load the bases in the hopes of getting a force out or even a double play.

But Schaffold ended it with one swing.

“We knew this game would be close,” Schaffold said. “We weren’t sure if we would pull out our bats or not. We did a really good job.”

Franklin Regional scored first when Cowell bunted towards third, but a three-base error allowed sophomore Averi Lamfrom to score and make it 1-0 in the second.

Shaler tied it in the bottom of the inning. After a single by junior Emily Spears and a walk to senior Bella Mubel — and a wild pitch that advanced the runners — Sachs singled to left to make it 1-1.

Spears and Sachs each had two hits.

After Camacho’s solo blast, Shaler tied it again in the fourth. Freshman Olivia Gieraltowski walked and made it to third in a groundout. Spears’ squeeze bunt with one out scored Gieraltowski for a 2-2 tie.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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