May 25—Elizabeth Forward, the top seed in the WPIAL Class 4A softball playoffs, hit 15 home runs in 17 regular season games.
The Warriors added three to that total Monday in a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over No. 8 Knoch in a quarterfinal game at Plum.
“We can hit the long ball every once in a while,” Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said.
EF, now 16-2 overall on the season, moves into the semifinals, where it will face the winner of No. 4 Montour and No. 5 Highlands on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
The Spartans and Golden Rams will play at 4 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.
Knoch, the Section 1 co-champions with Highlands, capped its season at 10-8. The Knights advanced to the quarterfinals with a first-round victory over Central Valley last week.
“(Elizabeth Forward) has a really nice team,” Knights coach Gary Coe said. “They are No. 1 for a reason. We had to come in here and play really well. A couple more timely hits would’ve helped, but I thought the girls played well overall.”
Cleanup hitter Grace Smith gave Elizabeth Forward a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.
“Grace has been a big spark for us, and we’re thrilled she is only a junior,” Rutherford said.
Pitcher Kailey Larcinese, a Towson commit, helped herself with homer to lead off the fourth, and Anna Resnik gave the Warriors the lead for good with a two-run shot later in the frame.
Knoch tied the game at three in the top of the second, taking advantage of three Elizabeth Forward errors. Bailey Rickenbrode collected an RBI single and scored from first on two errors after the hit.
“That’s definitely not us (defensively),” Rutherford said. “We don’t normally throw the ball around. I think we probably only had seven errors coming to this point.”
Brynnae Coe put the Knights ahead 5-3 with a two-run homer in the third.
“Normally, when we get a three-run lead, that’s a lot for this team, especially with Kailey pitching,” Rutherford said. “When we had the errors in the top of the second inning, it got (Knoch) back into the game. It kind of shook the girls up a little bit. Then Kailey serves up the home run ball that puts them ahead. But this team has always had a big inning in them somewhere. The lineup offensively is strong, one through nine.”
Elizabeth Forward collected 10 hits. Larcinese, who picked up the win, Smith and Bri Sersevic had two hits apiece for the Warriors.
Knoch finished with six hits, and Coe and Marissa Melius recorded two hits apiece.
“The girls never gave up and battled in every game this season,” Coe said. “These girls don’t quit, and that helped give them a shot in every game they played. Even though they didn’t get the win today, they can look at the whole season and know it was successful.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .