Canon-McMillan pitcher Alayna Astuto allowed only four hits Monday in the PIAA Class AAAA softball semifinal.
Three of them, however, were home runs.
The WPIAL champion Big Macs fell behind by three in the top of the first inning and never were able to fight their way back, losing, 5-4, to Bishop Shanahan at Carlisle.
"The first inning was what did it," Big Macs coach Michele Moeller said. "I'm real proud of the team; they battled their way back and made it a game."
Maddie Engel had a two-run single in a fifth inning in which Canon-McMillan (18-6) scored three to make it 4-3.
Trailing, 5-3, heading into the seventh, Veronica Rothka tripled with one out and scored on an Engel single. Canon-McMillan had two runners on when the game ended.
"We were getting there -- we only needed one more hit," Moeller said.
"All I read about was this [Division I] recruit pitcher they had [in Kate Poppe] who is going to Villanova, but we hit her. We just got down early and were never really able to recover completely from those three."
Poppe had eight strikeouts, and Erica Keen, Alyssa Lewis and Bridget Magee homered for Bishop Shanahan.
Rothka went 3 for 4, falling a home run short of a cycle. Giorgiana Zeremenko added a double for Canon-McMillan, which had won its previous eight games, outscoring opponents, 49-8. The Big Macs had averaged five runs per game in the postseason.
"We come out and it's error, hit, home run; but I think everybody thought we still had some time to whittle away at the lead a little," Moeller said. "We've been hitting all year long, so we certainly didn't give up. We came out and started stringing some hits together."
Astuto had seven strikeouts.
The Big Macs hadn't advanced to a WPIAL championship game until this season.
The Eagles (22-4) will meet Central Bucks South 5:30 p.m. Friday at Penn State in an all-District 1 PIAA championship game.
First Published June 12, 2012 12:00 AM