Big Macs rally to reach WPIAL final

May 22, 2014

CALIFORNIA – This one was a three antacid type of game.

Trailing by three runs and down to their final six outs, the Canon-McMillan’s softball players finally found their swing, scored four times in the bottom of the sixth inning and pulled out a trademark remarkable wins.

Olivia Lorusso smacked a two-run single that capped the four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning and gave the top-seeded Big Macs a 7-6 victory over Latrobe in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs at California University’s Lilley Field.

The win propels the Big Macs (18-3) to the finals against Shaler Thursday right back at Lilley Field at a time to be determined.

Canon-McMillan will be hunting for a third consecutive WPIAL championship against the Titans, who defeated Penn-Trafford 4-1 in the other semifinal game.

Latrobe drops to the third-place game against Penn-Trafford.

“It was hard not to feel nervous,” said Michele Moeller, the Big Macs head coach. “We’re the No. 1 seed, people love you, and you don’t want to let them down.”

It was a mostly quiet crowd of Canon-McMillan fans as Latrobe overcame an early 2-0 deficit by scoring five times over the second and third innings. The Wildcats also had a three-run lead, 6-3, after 4 1/2 innings.

Then, the lights seemed to come on for Canon-McMillan’s offense.

Tara Fowler led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to right field but was erased at second on a fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Taylor Bruno. Jada Kemp sacrificed Bruno to second.

Then pow, four straight hits.

Leadoff hitter Linda Rush doubled down the left-field line to score Bruno to make it 6-4. Brittany Crawford followed with an infield single off the glove of the Latrobe first baseman Shelby Noel, pushing Rush to third. Abby McCartney sent a single up the middle that scored Rush to make it 6-5 and advanced Crawford to second.

With Lorusso at the plate, Latrobe pitcher Meredith Carr uncorked a wild pitch advancing both runners. Lorusso then drove them both in with a single up the middle to give Canon-McMillan a 7-6 lead.

“They kept pitching me to the outside, but I knew I would get one inside,” said Lorusso. “So I stepped into it and hit it good. We’re always like the comeback team. There is always a little doubt but it’s so satisfying and exciting.”

Latrobe put a runner on in the seventh but the game ended on a doubleplay when Tara Fowler snagged a liner back to the mound and doubled off Ashley Perillo at first base.

Fowler and C-M’s defense got out of the sixth inning without giving up a run, despite Latrobe loading the bases with just one hit.

“(Latrobe) has been here before,” Moeller said. “Kudos to them for the way they played.”

Canon-McMillan took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to a home run by Brittany Crawford from the No. 2 spot. McCartney followed with a single to left field and made it to second when left fielder Reagan McCracken let it skid away. Lorusso followed with a double to drive in McCartney.

“I was talking to the umpire when Brittany hit the home run,” Moeller said. “He said, ‘Are you feeling OK now?’ And I said, ‘No.’”

Latrobe came right back in the top of the second inning. Ashley Perillo led off with a single to left and made it to second on an error. Madeline Stein walked and Jenna Raccur sacrificed each over a base. Meredith Carter singled in Stein and Raccur on a hot shot to center field, tying the game.

In the third, Perillo doubled in a run and Jenna Adams drove in two with a single to center to make it 5-2. C-M made it 5-3 in the bottom of the inning when Lorusso scored on an error.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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