South Allegheny softball tops Freeport in high-scoring matchup
Freeport celebrated four home runs on a windy afternoon, but the fifth blast sent South Allegheny home happy.
South Allegheny scored nine runs in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday, a rain-soaked rally punctuated by sophomore Kalsy Denk’s walk-off, three-run homer that defeated Freeport, 16-13, in a key Class 3A matchup.
With three outs left, Freeport had led 13-7.
But South Allegheny batted 10 in the final inning and nine came around to score. The Gladiators strung together five walks, three singles and Denk’s game-winning homer that cleared the fence in right-center field.
“Their will to win was great,” Freeport coach Sam Ross said. “We just ran out of steam, maybe. It’s hard to explain.”
The victory leaves fifth-ranked South Allegheny (8-1, 5-1) a half-game behind Deer Lakes (10-1, 6-1) in the Section 1 standings. No. 4 Freeport (8-2, 5-2) slips to third.
Freeport’s afternoon started with a leadoff home run by junior Ashleigh Schmidt, the first of its four homers. Freeport’s Becca Fennell had a two-run shot in the third, Jenna Manke hit a three-run blast in the fourth and Torri Radvan sent a two-run homer down the left-field line in the sixth.
With those blasts, the Yellowjackets led 1-0, 5-1, 8-2 and 10-5.
“The one question we had coming in was: How would we respond when we’re down?” SA coach Hal Minford said. “We’ve been playing ahead most of the year. How would we respond? I think we responded pretty good.”
Denk had three hits, three RBIs and scored twice. The home run was her second this season.
In the seventh, Denk hit a leadoff single against Freeport starter Kristie Radvan, who then walked the next three batters. Ross temporarily replaced her with reliever Torri Radvan, who let three of four batters reach base.
“The message was: ‘Get in there and have good at bats,’ ” Minford said. “When we started to see the pitcher struggling a little bit, we started to fake bunt.”
Ross allowed Kristie Radvan a few minutes “to collect herself” and then asked her to pitch again — an approach he’d used before with success. But this time, SA’s Aliyah Rotharmel hit a two-run single for a 13-13 tie, and Denk cleared the fence to win.
Rotharmel had three hits, three RBIs and scored twice, and teammate Mikayla Swearingen had two hits and three runs. Junior starter Sara Pribanic earned the win.
Each team had 15 hits. Torri Radvan led Freeport with five hits, including three extra-base hits. She scored twice.
“They’re very disappointed,” Ross said. “They played well enough to win, but against a quality team you’ve got to finish the game. We didn’t finish.”