Reversal of fortune: Lady Mikes headed to PIAA final after stunning comeback

By Rob Burchianti 6 min read
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Carmichaels catcher Kaityn Waggett tags out Chartiers-HoustonëƵs Ella Richey to deny the Lady Bucs the go-ahead run during the top of the seventh inning of MondayëƵs PIAA Class A semifinal game at Peterswood Park. The Lady Mikes would scored the winning run in the bottom of the inning.
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Carmichaels players celebrate after a walk-off win over Chartiers-Houston in MondayëƵs PIAA Class A semifinal game at Peterswood Park. The victory sends the Lady Mikes to the state final.
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CarmichaelsëƵ Bailey Barnyak rounds third base and heads for home to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning in MondayëƵs PIAA Class A semifinal game at Peterswood Park.

VENETIA ëƵ Round 2 went to Carys McConnell.

And Round 4 of the clash of softball rivals Carmichaels and Chartiers-Houston, this time in the PIAA Class A semifinals, went to McConnell and the Lady Mikes.

McConnellëƵs two-out double to deep right field on a 3-0 pitch sent Bailey Barnyak speeding around from first base to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as Carmichaels completed a stunning comeback to defeat the Lady Bucs, 5-4, at Peterswood Park on Monday afternoon.

Carmichaels advanced to ThursdayëƵs state championship game at Penn State University against either Old Forge or DuBois Central Catholic. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.

ëƵItëƵs what IëƵve been working towards the past two seasons,ëƵ Barnyak said. ëƵIt has sunk in. IëƵm ready for it.ëƵ

The Lady Mikes (19-3) rallied from a 4-0 deficit with four runs on just one hit in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking advantage of four Chartiers-Houston errors.

ëƵThatëƵs the one thing about his team, they never give up,ëƵ Carmichaels coach Dave Briggs said. ëƵThey just play and donëƵt panic. ThatëƵs the way weëƵve been all year.ëƵ

The score remained tied until the bottom of the seventh when Barnyak drew a two-out walk from Meadow Ferri, who pitched brilliantly in defeat.

Up stepped McConnell, who had faced a similar situation against Ferri the last time the two teams met in the WPIAL semifinals when she struck out with the tying run on base to end the game.

This time Ferri seemed to be very careful, throwing three straight balls.

ëƵI thought she was unintentionally, intentionally walking her,ëƵ Briggs said. ëƵThey walked her a ton this year. She looked at me but I didnëƵt give her a take sign.ëƵ

McConnell was guessing she would be intentionally walked.

ëƵI thought they werenëƵt going to pitch to me at all,ëƵ McConnell said.

Instead, McConnell zoned in on the 3-0 pitch and sent it flying to deep right field where Emily Swarrow made a leaping attempt but couldnëƵt make the catch.

ëƵI thought she was going to catch it,ëƵ McConnell said.

Barnyak never stopped and raced from first to home to score the winning run without a throw.

ëƵHe (Briggs) said two outs, youëƵre going, so thatëƵs what I did,ëƵ Barnyak said. ëƵInsane that we made it but I knew we could do it. IëƵm proud of everyone, especially of Carys.ëƵ

ëƵIëƵm happy that I got her this time,ëƵ McConnell said of winning the second huge postseason duel with Ferri.

ëƵShe hit a good pitch,ëƵ C-H coach Tricia Alderson said. ëƵI thought we had a shot out there in right field but it carried a little bit. SheëƵs a great hitter.ëƵ

Chartiers-Houston (20-3), which went on to defeat Union to win the WPIAL championship after its last meeting with Carmichaels, saw its season come to an end with a 20-3 record. The two ended their season series splitting their four games.

The Lady Bucs had a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh. Ella Richey drew a one-out walk and tried to score from first when Lauren Rush reached on a throwing error. Lady Mikes right fielder Avery Voithofer backed up on the play and made a strong throw to catcher Kaitlyn Wagget who tagged Richey out.

ëƵI was headed that way and then saw the ball was high and said, oh shoot, and tried to grab it as quick as I could,ëƵ Voithofer said. ëƵI just turned and let it loose.ëƵ

ëƵI just kept yelling, ëƵAvery, four, Avery, fourëƵ and she made a great throw,ëƵ Waggett said. ëƵI tagged her right before she hit the plate.ëƵ

MondayëƵs game looked like an outlier of the previous three close battles between Carmichaels and Chartiers-Houston, one of which went 15 innings, with the Lady Bucs seeming to be in complete control with a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.

ëƵI could tell we were getting down on ourselves a little,ëƵ Barnyak said. ëƵSo we pulled the team together and said, ëƵHey, look at the score, itëƵs fine, we can work through it.ëƵ And thatëƵs what we did. We put everything behind us and came back.ëƵ

Carmichaels took advantage of four Chartiers-Houston errors in an improbable rally that began with VoithoferëƵs one-out walk, FerriëƵs first of the game.

Duski Staggers bunted Voithofer to second and she scored from there when Alayna Simon reached on an infield error. Waggett followed with a hard single to right, the Lady MikesëƵ only hit of the inning, and took second on the throw to third which Simon beat. BarnyakëƵs grounder resulted in another error that allowed Simon and Waggett to score, the latter being safe when catcher Richey couldnëƵt hang onto the throw home. McConnellëƵs spinning grounder resulted in yet another infield error that allowed Barnyak to race home with the tying run from second.

ëƵIëƵm so proud of the way we just stayed in there, hung around and made some things happen there at the end,ëƵ said Briggs, who pointed out his team put the ball in play which gave them a chance.

ëƵThatëƵs what we tried to do. We went to the bunt game a little bit there and got some things going and got to the top of the order and got some runs across. We have some speed and some good base-running at the top with Katy Waggett, Bailey, Carys. TheyëƵre great baserunners and they can move and cause problems.ëƵ

Chartiers-Houston out-hit the Lady Mikes 7-3.

The Lady Bucs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Rush hit a one-out double to deep left-center and scored on Taryne DrilakëƵs double down the left-field line.

The Lady Mikes avoided further damage in the inning when left fielder Payton Plavi came in and made a diving catch of Seanna RiggleëƵs two-out sinking fly ball.

Charttiers-Houston made it 2-0 in the second inning. Richey singled, took second on a throwing error on the play and advanced to third on RushëƵs ground out. Ferri followed with an RBI single to center.

Ferri retired the first 10 batters until Barnyak reached on an error in the fourth inning. Ali Jacobs broke up the no-hitter with a two-out, line drive single to right, sending Barnyak to third but Ferri got a strikeout to end the threat.

The Lady Bucs extended their lead to 4-0 in the fifth when Alana Palone singled to center and Richey clubbed a two-run homer over the left field fence.

The game would turn around quickly in the bottom of the inning.

ëƵWe gave them all of their runs other than the last one,ëƵ Alderson said. ëƵOur defense broke down and that was the game.ëƵ

ëƵItëƵs hard,ëƵ Briggs said of what it takes to reach a state final. ëƵYou have to play well and it takes a little bit of luck.ëƵ


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