Piper McLaughlin was having trouble forgetting a few misplays she had in the outfield. So she used her bat as an eraser.
McLaughlin wiped away those bad memories with the biggest hit of the season for Chartiers-Houston. McLaughlin stroked a two-run triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bucs a thrilling, 3-2 extra-inning victory against Carmichaels Thursday in the WPIAL Class A title game at California University.
The win gave Chartiers-Houston (23-1) its second consecutive title.
"I was so upset the whole game [at the defensive errors]," said McLaughlin, a junior left fielder. "When I came up the last time, I just kept telling myself 'I have to get a hit this time.'"
The game was scoreless after six innings, but Carmichaels (22-2) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh when Regina Menhart doubled and scored on Cameron Grimes' sacrifice fly. Chartiers-Houston tied it in the bottom of the seventh on an unearned run. Pinch hitter Samantha Elliott came through with a run-scoring single.
Carmichaels went ahead again in the top of the ninth on Lindsey Osborne's RBI double. But in the bottom of the ninth, Chartiers-Houston's Kelli Dufresne led off with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Megan Kraushaar singled to put runners at first and third before Kayla Briggs popped out to shortstop.
Chartiers-Houston was down to its last out when McLaughlin hit a line drive to center field that hit and skipped just past Carmichaels center fielder Megan Bayles.
"I thought she was going to catch it. I was surprised she didn't," McLaughlin said. "I just kept running. I didn't even know any of our runners scored."
Briggs and Grimes both pitched the entire game. Chartiers-Houston struggled against Grimes' off-speed pitches and had only two hits through six innings. But the Bucs finished with eight hits and Kraushaar had two.
Carmichaels had seven hits with Osborne collecting two.
"It's tough because we played a heckuva game," said Carmichaels coach Dave Briggs, who is also the uncle of Chartiers-Houston's Briggs. "I thought we had it won a couple times."
It was Chartiers-Houston's fifth title since 2005 under coach Tricia Alderson.
"I'm really proud of the whole team and I'm so happy for [McLaughlin] because she's such a great kid," Alderson said. "She struggled a little bit earlier, but she just kept battling and stayed positive."
For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh. First Published June 1, 2012 12:00 AM