McMURRAY — Maybe this was the type of game West Greene needed.
After a laugher in the WPIAL championship, the Lady Pioneers were pushed to the edge. They could have crumbled in later innings but didn’t.
They could have surrendered when Shade loaded the bases in the seventh inning, threatening to erase the one-run lead West Greene was clinging to and pull off a major upset in its first appearance ever in the PIAA Championships.
It was not until Cassidy Mauger, who had launched a home run earlier in the game, sent a soft fly to second base and it came to rest in the glove of Taylor Karvan for the final out of the game that West Greene could celebrate a 5-4 victory over the Lady Panthers, the District 5 runner-up on a hot and humid day at Peterswood Park on June 7.
The win moved West Greene’s record to 19-2 and sent the Lady Pioneers against Cambridge Springs, the District 10 champions, on June 10.
Shade’s season came to an end with a 17-6 record. Shade, located about four miles from the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, is a smaller school than West Greene, graduating 32 seniors last year.
“My heart never needs a game like this,” said West Greene head coach Bill Simms. ”We didn’t know much about this team, but we know enough about them now. They have a real nice group, their outfielders can run and catch the ball, and their shortstop is a tremendous player.”
The play of the game came in the fifth inning when West Greene starting pitcher Kiley Meek cracked a two-run home run to center field that also scored Jersey Wise, who got on first when Shade starting pitcher McKenzie Baer hit her with a pitch.
Shade head coach Jason Baer disputed the hit by pitch, claiming Wise swung at the pitch. The umpires disagreed.
Meek’s blast, her sixth of the season, made it 5-3 in favor of West Greene. The Lady Pioneers would need every run.
“It was a fastball. I don’t look at the ball when I hit it,” Meek said. “Definitely think we were the better team. We just didn’t play our best game. We look forward to our next game.”
Shade took control of the game early when Mauger launched her home run to center field. That gave the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead. It lasted one inning.
The bottom of the second was a bizarre inning with three runs scoring on nothing longer than a bunt. BreAnn Jackson got on base by an error from second baseman Tara Corradini and moved to second on Ali Goodwin’s single to left field. Karvan was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Lexi Six then sent a pitch rolling toward first base, where Jenna Muha fielded it and fired it home to the catcher, Mauger, to force Jackson out.
Had Mauger not done anything else, then Shade might have won the game. But the catcher attempted to get Six out at first base. The throw sailed into right field and West Greene was off to the races. By the time the throw came in, Six had crossed the plate with the third run.
“My compliments go out to the Shade catcher,” Simms said. “I know it didn’t work out, but she’s looking to get them out of the inning. I’ll take a kid like that any day. God bless her heart. She was going for the throat and that’s the way we play.”
“We made a couple mistakes that hurt us today,” said Baer. “But I’m so proud of them and what they accomplished this year.”
Shade tied the game 3-3 in the top of the third on two ground outs after putting runners on second and third.
Meek’s home run gave West Greene a 5-3 lead and Shade pushed a run across in the seventh on an infield single by McKenzie Baer.
Six was outstanding at third base, registering five assists.