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Panthers top Golden Tide 1-0 in pitchers' duel

Saegertown got just enough offense in Monday’s PIAA Class 2A first round matchup against Curwensville to win 1-0 at Allegheny College.

The Panthers outhit Curwensville 7-2, but stranded runners in all six innings. Golden Tide pitcher Addison Siple and Saegertown senior Mikaila Obenrader combined to strikeout 19 in the pitchers’ duel.

“Overall it was a pretty good day for us. I think that our ability to be exposed to breaking balls throughout the season is a little limited so being able to adjust in this short amount of time was actually pretty impressive to me,” Saegertown head coach Jenn Bowes said. “I just hope the more we see it the more we adjust.”

In the bottom of the third inning, senior Kacie Mook doubled to the center field. Obenrader was intentionally walked before Maddy Pratt singled to load the bases with one out. Siple delivered two consecutive strikeouts to keep the game scoreless.

In the top of the fourth, Obenrader earned a timely strikeout with two runners on base to send her team up to the plate.

Freshman Leah McGill walked and advanced to second on an error that also allowed Mackenzie Braun to reach first. Senior Alyssa Arblaster doubled on a grounder to center field to score McGill from second, a run that would be the game-winner.

With runners in scoring position, Siple again worked her way out of a jam with a strikeout and a ground out to avoid any further damage.

“I think as we adjust to the breaking balls and see that pitch selection, we can get more timely hitting and execute on pitches when we get them,” Bowes said. “That will be key going forward.”

Curwensville had its best chance to score in the top of the sixth. Addison Butler walked to open the order and reached second on a bunt. Natalie Wischuck walked to put runners in the corners, but Obenrader again came up with a strikeout to keep the Golden Tide off the board.

“We had the tying run on the doorstep, we just couldn’t get a clutch hit or get a mistake or something to make a score out of it. We played them hard and I think we pushed them,” Curwensville head coach Allen Leigey said. “Looking at their games, they’d been 10- and 15- running people so we wanted to push them as long as we could push them and hopefully get them at the end. We almost did.”

Saegertown was in a good position to add to its lead in the bottom of the frame. Arblaster and Mook singled, but Siple forced contact for a ground out to keep the Golden Tide alive.

In the top of the seventh, Obenrader registered her 12th strikeout to ice the game and send the Panthers to the next round.

“We knew we’d be playing a much better team because obviously this is states now,” Obenrader said. “We came in with a good mindset. We knew they could hit and had good pitching so we’d have to bring our A game today.

“I’m ready to get back out here. I love playoffs. It’s my favorite part of high school softball.”

Curwensville, the District 9 runner-up, finished its season 16-7. It was also the final game of Leigey’s career. After 22 years of manning the Golden Tide dugout, he is retiring.

“My last day of being the athletic director was Friday, and today was my last day coaching. They knew coming in this was it,” Leigey said. “We were happy to get here, we weren’t satisfied though. We wanted to win.

“We knew we were up against an elite pitcher, and we knew they were destined to battle as hard as we could. I told them I am proud of them with how the game turned out. We just kept battling and battling.”

Wischuck and Simcox had Curwensville’s two hits on the day. Siple struck out seven, walked four and had no earned runs.

Arblaster, Mook and Rhiannon Paris each had two hits for the Panthers. Obenrader, a Canisius College commit, fanned 12 and walked three.

“Of course the pitching was excellent like it usually is,”Bowes said. “We come in with a game plan and believe the girls have the ability to execute that. It was on point.”

Saegertown will play Neshannock in the PIAA quarterfinal round on Thursday at a time and place to be announced.