Burgettstown stops J-M, secures PIAA softball berth
BALDWIN – In any game, a little help from above never hurts.
Burgettstown High School’s softball team got an abbreviated victory Tuesday afternoon at Baldwin High School, thanks to a quick-moving storm front.
But the Blue Devils really had all the help they needed in the dugout in pitcher Kate Tarr.
The right-handed sophomore allowed just two hits and no runs in Burgettstown’s 7-0 victory over Jefferson-Morgan that was stopped because of a lightning strike in the top of the sixth inning with the Rockets at bat.
That was followed about 15 minutes later by a downpour that left the field unplayable for this WPIAL Class A third-place game. It was called at 7:30 p.m., 3 1/2 hours after it was supposed to begin. The start of the game also was delayed about an hour by a slow rain.
The victory moved Burgettstown’s record to 17-5 and sends the Blue Devils into the PIAA playoffs against the District 6 champion, either Southern Huntingdon or Claysburg-Kimmel, Monday at a site and time to be determined. Burgettstown has qualified for the state tournament the past two seasons and three out of the last four years.
Jefferson-Morgan finished the season with a 16-4 record.
“In these conditions, you worry about your pitcher slipping or getting hurt,” said Burgettstown head coach Mark Deer. “You worry about any kid getting hurt, but especially your pitcher.”
Deer did not have to worry about Tarr, who struck out five and did not walk a batter. She faced only two over the minimum through five innings and got Morgan Gamble to ground out to shortstop in the top of the sixth when the game was stopped.
Tarr’s performance was a much-needed confidence boost after an 11-0 loss to Neshannock in the semifinals and more like her effort in an 8-2 win over Shenango.
“It’s been a long week after pitching three times (in seven days),” said Tarr. “The (holiday) break really helped me regain my strength.”
Deer said it was Tarr at her best against Jefferson-Morgan.
“It was a real comeback performance,” he said. “She was spot-on. Even when she was missing, she was not missing by much.”
Burgettstown’s bats staked Tarr to a 4-0 lead in the first inning as Jefferson-Morgan pitcher Maddie Ludrosky struggled with her technique. She was called for three illegal pitches, one of which allowed Cassie Carnes to score the first run of the game. Caley Ritts got on via an error, moved to second on an illegal pitch, and to third on a single by Sami Scopel. Ritts then scored on a double steal.
One out later, Bryanna Lonick doubled in Scopel and a groundout by Morgan Ellek brought home Lonick.
“I think getting the lead like that changed the tone of the game real fast,” said Deer. “
Lonick homered in the third and Cheyenne Winters scored on an error to push Burgettstown’s lead to 6-0. Ritts drove in a run with a single in the fifth to make it 7-0.
“It wasn’t the conditions that beat us,” said Jefferson-Morgan coach Tony Barbetta. “If we would have lost 3-2 or 2-1, I would have been upset. Burgettstown played so well. They play good as a team. They played good defense, too. When we hit the ball, it was right at someone. Hey, I’ll take 16-4 every year.”
Kirsten Stoneking had a single in the first and Reagan Rush had one in the third for the Rockets’ only hits.
“We’ll be back next season,” Barbetta said. “We lose only two seniors.”
Burgettstown, which won the Section 1 title with a 12-0 record, is looking for a longer stay in the state playoffs than last year’s first-round 4-0 loss to Claysburg-Kimmel.
“I think it’s going to be easier for us,” said Tarr. “This a confident team, and we have gotten better from last year.”