Shaler celebrates winning the WPIAL AAAA Softball Championship against Canon-McMillan, 9-5.
By Ryan Riordan / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Shaler freshman Kayla Seidl entered the WPIAL Class AAAA softball championship game in the top of the sixth inning as defensive replacement at second base.
In the bottom half of the inning, Seidl jump-started an inning that lifted the Titans to the title.
Seidl singled then scored what turned out to be the winning run as No. 2 Shaler (17-3) broke a 5-5 tie with four runs in the sixth to dethrone two-time defending WPIAL champion Canon-McMillan (18-4), 9-5, Thursday night at Lilley Park on the California University campus.
"Kayla is such a good athlete," Shaler coach Skip Palmer said. "We use her defensively more than offensively, but she's starting to hit the ball now. Kayla got the thing going, and everybody did their little part and fit in, and we'll take the win."
After Seidl's single, Mia Sipple bunted and reached first when the throw to second from Canon-McMIllan third baseman Olivia Lorusso did not beat Seidl to the bag. A walk by Jacey Schott loaded the bases for Haley Dengler, whose sacrifice fly to right scored Seidl to give Shaler the lead.
The Titans tacked on a three more runs in the inning on a two-run single by Lauren Miller and an RBI single by Amanda Sartori.
Brianna Dobson, who gave up three earned runs and struck out four in a complete game, retired Canon-McMillan in order in the seventh to clinch the victory.
"We've been working since August for this," Palmer said. "It's been a long, long battle, and these kids really bought into the system. This is a great program win."
Most of the game was back-and-forth, with the Big Macs striking first in the first.
Linda Rush and Brittany Crawford singled, and both scored on sacrifice flies by Abby McCartney and Lorusso to make it 2-0.
Shaler got a run back in the second when Rachel Nyman doubled home Lyndsey Lakatos,
In the third, Shaler took the lead with three runs. Dobson (sacrifice fly) and Sartori (single) each had an RBI.
Dengler drove in another run for the Titans in the fourth with an single after a Canon-McMillan error kept the inning alive a batter before. It was the fourth error of the game for the Big Macs, and they led to three unearned runs. Canon-McMillan finished with five errors.
"It's hard to win making five errors," Canon-McMillan coach Michele Moeller said. "The hits were there; we did what we needed to do at the plate. Unfortunately, we reverted back to early season and making four or five errors a game, and that was the difference."
The Big Macs, who rallied past Latrobe, 7-6, in the semifinals by scoring four runs with two outs in the sixth, started their comeback in the fifth this time. Jada Kemp started the inning with a bunt single and scored on McCartney's two-out triple. Lorusso followed with an RBI double and scored on Giorgiana Zeremenko's single to tie the score at 5.
Zeremenko and Rush each had two hits to lead the Big Macs, who came up short in their attempt to become the first team to win three consecutive WPIAL Class AAAA titles.
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