CANONSBURG – As Canon-McMillan’s softball team lost its first section contest in almost two years to Baldwin on Tuesday night, Peters Township’s team sat in the stands watching the Big Macs make five errors.
When the two teams met Thursday at North Strabane Field, Canon-McMillan senior Olivia Lorusso wanted to send a message to the Indians that the 12-run loss to the Highlanders was not the norm.
The message was delivered in the form of Lorusso and junior center fielder Abby McCartney combining for four home runs and seven RBI to propel the Big Macs past Peters Township, 13-6, in a Section 4-AAAA game.
“We had that fire in our bellies,” Lorusso said. “Losing the way we did was tough. And on top of that, Peters’ girls were there watching us lose that game. We were anxious to show them that’s not how we play softball.”
Canon-McMillan (5-1, 5-1) did not waste any time when McCartney and Lorusso hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning to give the Big Macs a 2-0 lead. Junior pitcher Tara Fowler hit a single to drive in junior catcher Georgiana Zeremenko, who doubled in the previous at-bat, as the home team took a three-run advantage into the second inning.
After committing five errors in the loss to Baldwin, mistakes cost Canon-McMillan its lead. Peters Township (4-2, 4-5) loaded the bases with three singles and Fowler got the Indians to ground into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. The Big Macs seemed destined to exit the jam without a run surrendered, but two straight errors and a two-run single by Peters Township junior second baseman Marissa Wickstrom gave the Indians a one-run advantage.
Canon-McMillan allowed one more run in the top of the fourth, when Wickstrom, who finished 3-for-3 with five RBI, drove in Kellyn Perich with a double.
Feeling frustrated but not defeated, the Big Macs did not lose confidence. Their response: an eight-run fourth inning that avoided the program’s first back-to-back losses since April 2012.
Zeremenko led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and Fowler followed with a two-run homer to tie the score at 5-5. Sophomore shortstop Linda Rush hit an RBI-single, McCartney added a two-run double, Lorusso hit a two-run homer and Zeremenko capped the rally with her first home run of the season, a solo shot over the left-field fence.
“We’re never afraid to put the bat on the ball,” McCartney said. “It doesn’t worry us to be down in a game because we know we have it in us to come back.”
After four errors by Canon-McMillan in the first four innings, the Big Macs did not commit another and Fowler allowed just one run, in the sixth inning. The Indians couldn’t overcome C-M’s big fourth inning. Rush hit an RBI single in the fifth and McCartney added a solo home run in the sixth inning - her second of the game.
While Peters Township did not commit an error, misplayed fly balls led to extra-base hits for Canon-McMillan and, ultimately, the Indians’ second-straight loss.
“Canon Mac is a very good hitting team,” Peters Township head coach Bob Bowers said. “They’re very powerful and the wind helped them today. When you make a couple of mental errors, it’s hard to survive games, especially against a team like this.”
One year after strong defense and shutdown pitching led the Big Macs to the PIAA Class AAAA state championship, Canon-McMillan head coach Michele Moeller is hoping her team can clean up its mistakes as the season progresses.
“Things got away from us against Baldwin, but it’s early in the season,” Moeller said. “We need to bear down and tighten up our defense. We played great defensively last year and we need to get back to that. We learned a long time ago that the season doesn’t end this early in section play.”