The Bethel Park softball team’s 4-1 loss to Penn Manor in the first round of the PIAA Class 6A tournament stung.
While the emotion of the Black Hawks’ season-ending loss was evident from players and coaches alike as they held a postgame meeting June 7 in left field at Norwin High School, this group had indeed made history.
n the past two seasons, Bethel Park had a 31-5 record, captured two section titles and claimed its first WPIAL championship in program history.
“I am so proud of these girls, the season they had and the school history they made,” said Black Hawks head coach Heather Scott as she choked back tears.
Bethel Park breezed through the regular season, pounding out 18 consecutive victories before ending its year with the loss to Penn Manor, District 3’s third-place team. After winning the WPIAL title with a 9-2 victory over section rival Canon-McMillan, the Black Hawks’ bats went silent.
BP, which averaged nine runs and as many as 10 hits a game, was limited to three hits, and one unearned run, by Penn Manor pitcher Bella Peters, who also racked up seven strikeouts.
“We did not score like we’ve been and we did not hit,” Scott said. “We hit a wall.
“(Peters) pitched well,” she added, “but our pitch selection was not good. We could have been a little more patient.”
BP scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth, courtesy of an error by Peters. While winding up on a pitch, the ball slipped out of her hand and sailed into the outfield allowing Reagan Milliken to score from second base.
Milliken had singled to start the inning and advanced to second on a walk issued to Delaney Sierka.
Sierka and Sandra Soltes, who tagged a grand slam and another homer in the WPIAL championship, had BP’s other two base hits.
The duo strung together back-to-back singles in the second. After Emily Momchilovich walked to load the bases, Peters got a strikeout to end the threat.
Defense also factored into the outcome.
The Black Hawks committed three errors while the Comets were flawless except for the dropped pitch. The Comets robbed Alexandra Sniegocki and Milliken of extra base hits with sparkling plays by second baseman Emily Riggs and right fielder Bria Booth.
Penn Manor scored two unearned runs in the second inning and added runs in the third and seventh.
“We did not play our best defensive game,” Scott said. “It happens, but I always say defense wins championships.
“My hat’s off to (Penn Manor),” she added. “They played a good game.”
BP, on the other hand, saved their worst game for the last.
“We finally just hit that wall that all of us collectively did not hit,” Scott said. “It’s common that after wining WPIALs, its tough to regroup and get back.”