McMURRAY – Carmichaels’ Bailey Barnyak and Carys McConnell are listed on the roster as freshmen, but the duo proved they play like seniors in the Mikes’ 3-1 victory over Frazier in the WPIAL Class A semifinals Tuesday afternoon at Peterswood Park.
The Mikes (19-0) play Union (16-3) in the final at PennWest California University of Pennsylvania’s Lilley Field May 31 or June 1.
“We are going to enjoy this one, but we will be ready for either team,” Carmichaels coach Dave Briggs said. “Frazier is a good team that is well coached. We will get a little bit of a break before the final. We know we will be playing a solid team, but I like our chances.”
The Commodores (14-2) face Chartiers-Houston (13-6) in the consolation final. Regardless of the outcome, all four semifinalists have qualified for the state tournament.
“We will play in a game that is for seeding,” Frazier coach Don Hartman said. “Our girls are not ready to pack in the gear. It is a crapshoot in the state tournament, and that’s why I really love the state tournament. You just never know who is going to win it.”
Barnyak, who has been the ace for Carmichaels all season, started against the Commodores and allowed two hits over seven innings. She didn’t allow an earned run while striking out 13 and walking two.
Barnyak is the daughter of another former Mike ace pitcher, Nikki Gasti (Onderko), who guided Carmichaels to a state championship in 1998. Onderko serves on Briggs’ staff as the pitching coach.
“My rise ball is a go-to pitch for me, and changeups were working pretty good, too,” Barnyak said. “Jensyn Hartman and Delaney Warnick are really good players. My mom has always taught me to keep my composure and stuff like that. We are glad to be in the championship game next week, and we hope to get Coach Briggs a championship. He deserves it.”
While Barnyak did it with her pitching, McConnell was responsible for all three of the Mikes’ runs, as she had an RBI single, home run and scored after drawing a walk.
“The first at-bat, she threw an off-speed pitch,” McConnell said. “I felt like she was pitching around me, but I got one inside. The pitch I hit the home run on was inside and I just pulled it. I knew it was a homer when it came off my bat.”
Carmichaels took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Sophia Zalar led off with a single to right field, stole second and scored on McConnell’s base hit to center field.
Zalar, a senior, has enjoyed working all the underclassmen on the Mikes’ roster. She is eager to play for the district title, as the Mikes last appeared in the WPIAL final during a back-to-back stretch in 2012 and ‘13.
“This game meant a lot to me and my teammates,” Zalar said. “As soon as I saw that first pitch, I knew I wanted it really bad. It just felt really good because I wanted to get the game started off good for my team as the leadoff batter.
“I love all my teammates, but I especially love the underclassmen. They have a special place in my heart and really work hard in the offseason with travel ball and just getting ready for the high school season.”
With one out in the third, McConnell hit a blast to left field to increase Carmichaels’ advantage to 2-0. McConnell walked in the fifth, stole second and scored on Ali Jacobs’ double to left field for a 3-0 lead.
Frazier cracked the scoreboard in the sixth after Delany Warnick reached on an error and scored on Maria Felsher’s double to left with two outs, and the deficit was cut to two.
The Commodores had the bases loaded in the third with Warnick at the plate, but Barnyak forced a groundout to first base to end the threat.
“I give Barnyak all the credit in the world right there,” Hartman said. “She handled my big hitters. We swung at a lot of pitches we shouldn’t have out of the zone. We knew she was throwing that high screwball, and we couldn’t lay off on the stupid things. She knew it and she kept throwing it. I give her credit. She attacked my hitters.”
The Mikes’ Kaitlyn Waggett tripled in the third, but Kendall Ellsworth was thrown out at the plate.
Frazier’s Madison Bednar allowed three earned runs on five hits over six. She struck out six and walked three.
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