Springdale softball gears down for 1st postseason since 2000

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Monday, May 6, 2019 | 5:39 PM


Playoffs wasn’t a term that had been used in connection with Springdale softball for some time.

The last time the Dynamos reached the WPIAL postseason was 2000. That year, Springdale defeated Brentwood in eight innings in the first round before falling to Chartiers-Houston, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.

But this year’s squad showed early the postseason drought was on the verge of coming to an end.

Now, a week before playoffs begin, the team hopes to stay focused and hungry for its opportunity.

“We’re happy with what we’ve accomplished, but I think we can do more,” freshman leadoff hitter Emily Wilhelm said. “We’ve been getting better each game, and I hope we can win a game in the playoffs.”

Springdale, with just one senior in its starting lineup (Gabby Yost), is 12-3 overall. It finished 9-3 in Section 3 of 1A after splitting a pair of games Monday against Jeannette (loss) and St. Joseph (win).

After weather-related postponements and cancellations caused a 19-day gap without a game, the Dynamos played eight games in eight days through Monday’s doubleheader.

“It’s been a lot of games in a short period of time, but the girls have been happy to get on the field and compete and not have to practice in the gym,” Springdale coach Anthony Pototo said. “They’re also excited we’re in the playoffs, something that hasn’t happened in Springdale in a long time. They can’t wait to see who they get in the first round and are ready to begin preparation for that.”

The Dynamos bounced back from a 12-2, five-inning loss to section champion Leechburg with doubleheader sweeps of Ellis School and Geibel Catholic on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

A key game in the stretch was the second game of the doubleheader against Ellis, a 9-8 victory in which the Dynamos rallied from an 8-4 deficit in the sixth inning.

“The girls have been reminded throughout this season that no matter who you are playing, you have to play your ‘A’ game and finish the game out all the way through,” Pototo said. “You have to make plays, get hits and put hits together. You have to stay composed when things might not be going your way.

“Ellis is a good team despite what their record might show. They made plays and forced us to make plays.”

Freshman Alexis Hrivnak tied the score with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, and Wilhelm won it for Springdale in the bottom of the seventh.

Hrivnak came on in relief in the top of the seventh and struck out two to keep the Dynamos in position for the win.

“We played as a team and didn’t get down on ourselves,” Wilhelm said. “We kept talking each other up the whole time and were able to come back with a good play on defense or a good hit. It was a great feeling to get that win.”

Pototo said the wins over Ellis, which included an 8-5 triumph in Game 1, carried over to the next day. The team outscored Geibel, 38-3, in the doubleheader.

Despite Springdale’s record and successes this season, Leechburg continues to rule in the section. The Blue Devils ended the Dynamos’ season-opening undefeated streak at six games with a 19-11 win April 10 and has clinched the outright section title.

Pototo said he saw some good things in both games against Leechburg

“I told the girls after last week’s game with Leechburg that it was over, and that they couldn’t let it affect them moving forward,” Pototo said. “But we were in that game. We had scored a couple of runs (to make the score 5-2) and had that one bad inning in the bottom of the fifth.

“Leechburg has been a solid and consistent team for some time, and the girls want to be where they are. They want to keep winning. They’ve learned a lot from both games against Leechburg this year.”

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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