Mt. Lebanon softball

Mt. Lebanon High School softball champions pictured front, from left, are Olivia Hamel, Deirdre Flaherty, Liz Kubancek, Iris Barone, Mia Alandete; back, coach Tess Apke, Grace Goodin, Payton Yagaleski, Jenna Gorecki, Kate Borza, Sanni Phillips, Olivia Buckiso, coach Lou Phillips, Gabby Boone, coach Casey Phillips

The WPIAL crowns softball champions in the spring.

Nevertheless, Mt. Lebanon is thrilled about a recent tournament title that could very well be a harbinger for 2021.

The Blue Devils went 5-0 against District 7 perennial powers and captured the championship in the Mt. Lebanon Boosters Fall Tournament.

“From a confidence standpoint, I think this bodes well for our future,” Lebo coach Casey Phillips said. “We showed we can play with anybody.”

Lebo opened with a 12-1 win over South Fayette, before topping Avonworth 1-0. The Blue Devils then beat section rivals Canon-McMillan 11-5 and Bethel Park 7-3 to reach the finals. Lebo then defeated Avonworth 5-2 for the title.

The Antelopes were the 2019 WPIAL Class AAA champions.

“For us to be competitive, let alone get two wins against a great program says a lot about the direction and trajectory of our program,” Phillips said.

Phillips also pointed to the games against coach Michelle Moeller’s Big Macs and coach Heather Scott’s Black Hawks as critical to Lebo’s development.

“We had good wins against coaches that I have great respect for,” he said. “You have to bring your A-game all of the time if you are going to have a chance to beat them.”

The one-two punch of Deirdre Flaherty and Kate Borza defeated some of the WPIAL’s best.

Belle Vernon, Laurel Highlands, Moon and Montour also participated in the two-day weekend event played at Dixon, Middle and Clint Seymour fields in Mt. Lebanon.

Flaherty, a sophomore, hit .714 with three doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI in the tournament. She hit a three-run homer in the championship game as well.

Borza dominated on the mound posting a 5-0 record with a 1.60 ERA and 25 strikeouts for the tournament. She scattered three hits and struck out two in the tournament final.

Senior first baseman Jenna Gorecki hit .636 with five doubles and five RBI during the tournament.

Seniors Grace Goodin, Payton Yagaleski; juniors Iris Barone, Elizabeth Kubancek, Olivia Hamel, Mia Alandete, Sammi Phillips; sophomores Olivia Buckiso and Clara Hartnett as well as freshman Gabby Boone round out the Lebo roster.

The fall season continues for the Blue Devils through October with tournaments scheduled for Belle Vernon, Canon-McMillan and Avonworth.

Phillips said the Blue Devils were devastated about losing the 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everybody felt disappointed especially after all the hard work they put into it and to have the season taken away,” Phillips said. “We were excited to be going into the season. We thought we had a chance to compete. No being able to play was extremely difficult.”

Even though last spring did not work out for the Blue Devils, Phillips said their recent tournament win reinforced what the coaches already knew.

“Obviously getting back with their teammates was No. 1. They are a tight-knit group,” he said. “They like each other and enjoy each other’s company. But this was a manifestation of all their hard work. It was a nice pay off for these last few months. They hadn’t forgotten all they had learned in the spring. They remembered in a hurry.”

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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