West Mifflin rallies past Burrell in Class 4A softball

Monday, May 24, 2021 | 8:53 PM

The West Mifflin softball team’s return to Plum was a successful one.

The Titans fell to Indiana on an extra-inning walk-off at Plum in the first round of the 2018 WPIAL Class 4A playoff.

On Monday, West Mifflin rallied from a two-run first-inning deficit to top Burrell, 6-2, in a Class 4A quarterfinal.

“Our girls, especially our seniors, really wanted to win a game like this and advance,” said Titans coach Erik Hilligsberg, whose team earned a first-round bye into the quarterfinals after a runner-up finish to Elizabeth Forward in Section 2.

“I was a little worried early on, but they responded.”

The third-seeded Titans improved to 16-4 overall and will play No. 2 Beaver in Wednesday’s semifinals.

West Mifflin took a 3-2 led in the third and added on with three runs in the sixth.

“It was a rocky start, but after that, we just came together and focused,” said West Mifflin center fielder and cleanup hitter Emma Mackulin, who hit a two-run homer in the sixth, added a single in the fourth and scored two runs.

“We just had to get over any nerves. I knew we had faith in our team to get things started. We’ve been a resilient team all year and have been able to come back from deficits.”

With two walks, a run-scoring double from Katie Armstrong and an RBI from Caroline Dynka, Burrell grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

West Mifflin starter Addie Hilligsberg gave up three hits overall. She surrendered a single to Liz Clark in the third and a single by Rikki Wyble in the seventh. Hilligsberg struck out 11.

“Addie really settled down and was hitting her spots and mixing speeds,” Erik Hilligsberg said. “She did really well, and I am proud of her.”

Armstrong, Burrell’s sophomore strikeout artist, was perfect through three innings with six strikeouts.

West Mifflin finally got to Armstrong in the bottom of the fourth.

Ohio University commit Lauren Yuhas started the rally by beating out a grounder to third. Emily Buchleitner followed with a two-run homer over the raised fence in left field to tie the score 2-2.

With one out, Mackulin singled. She stole second and third and then came home on a passed ball to give the Titans the lead. Armstrong retired the next five West Mifflin batters before the Titans struck again in the sixth.

Yuhas led off with a double and scored on a double from Alyssa Schmidt. Mackulin then tallied her home run to extend the lead to four.

Armstrong finished with 10 strikeouts and seven hits surrendered.

“It’s hard to hold a good team down,” Burrell coach Rick Nealer said. “Katie really held them at bay early on. She battled the whole game. Katie is one of the big reasons we were here playing in the quarterfinals. She’s a heck of a ballplayer, and the nice thing is, we have her for two more years.”

Burrell, seeded sixth, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-2 walk-off victory over Belle Vernon at Plum last week. The Bucs capped their season at 8-7.

“This was a tough one,” Nealer said. “West Mifflin is a very good team. They have some really good hitters. Hat’s off to them. They earned that win. Good luck to them in the next round. Our girls never gave up, and they did some great things this season.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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