McMURRAY – The jubilation ended after the pregame Senior Day recognition.
Upper St. Clair junior pitcher Danielle Orendi made sure to never let it return to the Peters Township High School softball team.
Working both sides of the plate effectively, Orendi dominated from start to finish and received some much-deserved assistance from both her defense and the Panthers’ hitters to eliminate Peters Township from playoff contention with a 9-1 win in Class 6A Section 1 Wednesday afternoon at the Pleasant Valley Elementary School field.
The win clinches a postseason appearance for Upper St. Clair (9-4, 11-5) for the first time in 20 years.
“She pitched a good game,” said Peters Township coach Nicole Davis. “The wind was not our friend today. She was mixing up her pitches and hitting her spots really well. It was nothing we couldn’t hit because we did. It was just right to them.”
Only striking out four, Orendi did her damage by letting Peters Township (7-6, 9-8) hit softballs into the gruesome wind, which knocked down fly balls that easily fell into the gloves of the Panthers’ fielders. Eleven of the 21 Indians’ outs were either popouts or flyouts. She allowed four hits, none until one out in the fourth inning.
“My fastball was on today,” Orendi said. “It felt good and worked well. It was huge for me to have the confidence, especially going into the later innings.”
Giving Orendi even more confidence was the lead built by Upper St. Clair in the fifth inning.
The Panthers had seven players get a hit as they batted around to score five runs and extend their lead to 6-0. Madison Swigart, Haley Beardsley and Madison Andrejcik each doubled. Swigart’s extra-base hit to right centerfield scored a run. The double by Beardsley, which Peters Township’s right fielder intentionally let drop, thinking it would land in foul territory, hit inches inside the right-field line and bounced out of play for a book-rule double that score two more runs.
“It was like an unearned double,” Davis said. “What are the odds of it first bouncing in fair territory and then going out of play. One play turned the inning, and we can’t let that happen, especially one that we didn’t have too much control over.”
Peters Township ended Orendi’s stretch of retiring the first 10 batters when Chloe Paugh singled in the fourth inning.
The Indians scored their lone run when Kate Hondru reached on an infield single to start the fifth and scored line-drive double down the left-field line by Amber Wilkes.
A leadoff home run from Beardsley extended Upper St. Clair’s lead to 9-1 in the seventh inning.
“We got (Danielle) some hits and gave her some breathing room,” said Upper St. Clair coach Bill Aguglia. “I knew it was coming. We were on it. We started hitting gaps and making them field the ball, that’s what opened the game up for us.
“The first time in 20 years feels great. I was brought in two years ago with the mission of turning it around. Here we are ready to make some more noise.”