Ahlberg's slam caps Lady Warriors' 18-5 win over Mo Valley|
Friday, April 19, 2013
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
ALLPORT - The West Branch softball team piled up 10 runs in a decisive fifth inning on Thursday afternoon, breaking open a close game and invoking the 10-run rule all in the same frame.
Lady Warrior MeLesha Ahlberg ended the contest in the bottom of the stanza with a grand slam to salt away West Branch's 18-5 win over visiting Moshannon Valley.
Ahlberg's slam capped an inning that saw West Branch send 12 batters to the plate, collecting five hits and four walks, while also getting the help of two Mo Valley errors.
"I'm happy for MeLesha," West Branch head coach Dave Breon. "That was a nice way to end the game."
Walks were a big issue for the Damsels all game long as four Mo Valley pitchers combined for a total of 15 free passes. Nine of the 15 batters who drew walks came around to score.
"We gave up a bunch of walks and had some errors, and that was really the difference," Mo Valley head coach John Gallagher said.
The Damsels ran into trouble from the get-go when starting pitcher Hannah Kitko was lifted with two out in the first inning after giving up a hit and three walks.
Chelsea Domanick relieved her, but had trouble with her control as she walked the first four batters she faced before getting out of the inning.
"Hannah had the flu and I didn't know that before the game," Gallagher said. "I usually warm up two pitchers before every game, but didn't today. So I had no one warmed up, and that's my fault."
The Lady Warriors took advantage of the seven-walk inning by pushing five runs across the plate.
But the Damsels got back in the game with a run in the second inning and two more in the top of the third to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Domanick scored on a double-steal after leading off the second with a triple, and Tayia Swoope smashed a one-out single in the third that plated Mikayla Lewis and Kelsey Kitko.
West Branch answered with three runs in the bottom of the third off Lucy Baker - Mo Valley's third pitcher.
The big hit in the inning was a 2-run single off the bat of Janene Couteret, who was red hot at the plate. She was 3-for-3 and walked twice, while scoring four runs and picking up three RBIs.
Undaunted, Mo Valley came right back with two more in the top of the fourth inning.
Brandee Keith led off with a base hit and moved to third on Mackenzie Kitko's double. Both Damsels scored on a Kelsey Kitko two-bagger.
Kelsey Kitko was a home run short of the cycle and added a stolen base.
"Kelsey had an excellent day hitting," Gallagher said. "She is seeing the ball very well. Kenzie Kitko came through with a big hit, too."
The Lady Warriors were unable to score in the bottom of the fourth as Baker enjoyed the only 1-2-3 inning tossed by any pitcher on the day.
"I was a little worried when the score was 8-5," Breon said. "I told the girls we needed to get some runs that inning, and we didn't."
Baker was very effective during her first three innings of work as she allowed just three runs - two earned - on two hits, while walking two batters and striking out one.
"She hasn't pitched since the first game," Gallagher said. "She did what we needed her to do - throw strikes. But then she got a little tired."
As Baker tired in the bottom of the fifth, West Branch dug in at the plate.
Couteret, Morgan Rackish and Ahlberg hit consecutive singles off Baker to start the frame with Couteret scoring on Ahlberg's knock.
After a Madison McCracken fielder's choice erased Rackish from the base paths, Taylor Hall smacked a sacrifice fly to right to plate Ahlberg.
Gabby Redmond followed with a base hit to right to score McCracken, giving West Branch an 11-5 lead.
A costly Damsel error allowed Missy Croyle to reach after Redmond's hit, prolonging the inning.
Baker then walked four straight Lady Warriors before being relieved by Keith.
And Ahlberg took the fifth pitch she saw from Keith for a ride over the left field fence to cap the 10-run inning and end the game.
Ahlberg was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and five RBIs - all five coming in the fifth inning.
"Our kids did a good job waiting for good pitches," Breon said. "We hit the ball well. We put it in play. And Mo Valley made a couple poor decisions defensively that helped us."
Despite falling by 13 runs, the Damsels actually out-hit the Lady Warriors, 9-8. Four of those hits went for extra bases.
"Our lineup is hitting. We're putting the ball in play," Gallagher said.
Rackish got the win for West Branch to up her record to 4-0 on the season. She gave up five runs on nine hits, while walking three batters and fanning four.
"We've seen Morgan before," Gallagher said. "She did a good job moving her pitches around."
West Branch improved to 5-4 overall, 2-1 in the Moshannon Valley League and 4-2 in the Inter-County Conference.
Moshannon Valley dipped to 1-5 overall, 1-1 in the MVL and 0-4 in the ICC.
The Damsels are back in action Monday at Claysburg-Kimmel.
West Branch hosts Harmony today.
PINCH HITS: Lady Warrior Rachel Myers walked three times in the game. She scored twice and added a stolen base ... Croyle and Leanna Prinkey each drew two walks and both scored two runs ... Mo Valley first baseman Carly Kitko turned an unassisted double play in the second inning.
Lewis ss 2100, K. Kitko 2b 3132, Baker cf-p-rf 3000, Stodart cf 0000, Swoope c 3012, Domanick lf-p-cf 3120, C. Kitko 1b 1000, Keith rf-p 3110, M. Kitko 3b 3120, Dale dp 1000, H. Kitko (flex) 0000, Pinto (flex) lf 0000. Totals: 22-5-9-4.
Couteret cf 3433, Rackish p 3111, Ahlberg ss 3325, McCracken 3b 3110, Hall lf 2101, Redmond 2b 3211, Croyle 1b 2201, Myers rf 1201, Prinkey dp 2200, Laterzo (flex) c 0000. Totals: 22-18-8-13.
Score by Innings
Moshannon Valley 012 2 0-5 9 4
West Branch 503 0(10)-18 8 0
Ten-run rule invoked with two outs in the bottom of the fifth
Errors-Swoope, K. Kitko, Keith, Lewis. LOB-Moshannon Valley 6, West Branch 7. DP-Moshannon Valley. 2B-K. Kitko, M. Kitko. 3B-K. Kitko, Domanick. HR-Ahlberg (grand slam, 5th). SAC-C. Kitko; Rackish. SF-Hall. SB-C. Kitko, Domanick, K. Kitko; Myers, Rackish. CS-Croyle (by Swoope). WP-H. Kitko, Domanick, Baker 3. Illegal Pitch-Baker 2. PB-Laterzo.
Moshannon Valley: H. Kitko-2/3 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO; Domanick-1/3 IP, 0 H, 1 R 1 ER, 5 BB, 0 SO; Baker-3 2/3 IP, 6 H, 12 R, 5 ER, 7 BB, 1 SO; Keith-0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.
West Branch: Rackish-5 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO.
Domanick pitched to 1 batter in the second.
Keith pitched to 1 batter in the fifth.
WP-Rackish (4-0). LP-H. Kitko (1-4).