WPIAL Class AA softball: First title hits the 'sweet spot' for Deer Lakes

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The instant she made contact, Siera Sarver knew she had delivered the winning hit.

"Oh yeah," said Sarver. "It hit my sweet spot."

Sarver recognized that "walk-off hit" feeling because she also had experienced it not long ago.

Sarver lined a single to right in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Becca Babincak and capping an unlikely late comeback as Deer Lakes won its first WPIAL softball championship with a 3-2 victory against Greensburg Central Catholic in the Class AA title game Thursday at California University.

"We never gave up," Lancers pitcher Haliey Moretti said. "We wanted it the most. And we got it."

Sarver had the winning single in the bottom of the 10th of Deer Lakes' 6-5 victory against Mohawk in the WPIAL quarterfinals May 21.

"It's a great feeling," Sarver said. "I was kind of in a groove, but everybody put something together to make this a win."

No. 4 seed Deer Lakes (19-1) was down to its final out and trailing, 2-0, in the seventh when Courtney Lubick singled to center to drive in Sarver and pinch-runner Haley Ketchell.

That was only the second hit of the game for the Lancers. The Centurions' Anna Marie Gatti had a perfect game through four until Sarver led off the fifth with a single.

"It's just like what we did all year," Deer Lakes coach Craig Taliani said. "We just had confidence.

"We got it together there at the end. We challenged them to find that extra gear, and they did. They manufactured runs."

No. 7 Greensburg Central Catholic (14-7) lost in the final for the second consecutive season.

Four of the first five Centurions to come to the plate in the first inning reached base. Despite only one ball leaving the infield -- an Alie Perz RBI pop single that dropped just over second baseman Katie Gozzard's head -- Greensburg Central Catholic had a 2-0 lead before Deer Lakes had come to bat.

"Obviously," Taliani said, "we had a little bit of jitters in that first inning. It showed. But, once we got through that inning, Haliey just kept it together. She took over the game."

After Perz's hit, Moretti retired the next 21 batters -- the equivalent of a perfect game.

At one point, a combined 26 consecutive batters were retired.

"Both pitchers ... what a great pitching duel," Centurions coach Gary Ciarimboli said.

Both teams qualified for the PIAA tournament that begins Monday.

Deer Lakes was making its first appearance in a WPIAL title game. The Lancers were eliminated in the semifinals last season by Greensburg Central Catholic, which lost to Burrell in the 2011 championship.



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