Early offense propels Westmont Hilltop over River Valley in District 6 Class 3A softball quarterfinal

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May 24—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Westmont Hilltop capitalized on a fast start Monday afternoon and went on to capture a five-inning 11-1 mercy-rule victory over visiting River Valley in a District 6 Class 3A softball quarterfinal contest.

The Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference co-champion Hilltoppers (17-2) took command of the game early with a four-run first inning and followed that up with three more tallies in the second frame.

"We talk a lot about how preparation meets opportunity," Westmont Hilltop coach Monica Cox said. "We were prepared, we had the opportunity, and just went out and got it going right away."

The second-seeded Hilltoppers now move on to the semifinals, where they will host third-seeded Cambria Heights on Thursday.

Kendal Shingler's big day at the plate keyed the Hilltoppers offense. Shingler finished 3-for-4 with a pair of singles and a double. The junior second baseman also drove in four runs and scored three times.

"Kendal doing that is amazing," Cox said. "For the past few games, she's gotten herself into a little bit of a slump, but today she was ready to go."

Bailey Thornton picked up the abbreviated complete-game victory in the circle by allowing a single unearned run on four hits, while striking out four and walking two.

The seventh-seeded Panthers concluded a 15-5 season.

"It's hard to come back when you get down in a game like this," River Valley coach Frank Harsh said. "It's kind of been a thing in the last couple of games where we couldn't get the offense going."

Bailey Dunlap tallied two of the Panthers' four hits.

Shingler got things started for Westmont Hilltop in the bottom of the first by reaching on an error with one out, and eventually scored the opening run on a two-out infield single by Zailees Seda-Fas, a St. Peter's commit.

Thornton then drew a walk, and sophomore right fielder Quinn Kuzmiak subsequently crushed a long drive over the center-field fence for a three-run homer.

"Quinn is one of, if not, the strongest players with her throws and bat speed that I've seen in 20 years of coaching," Cox said.

The Hilltoppers kept up the pace in the second inning. Makenna Oswalt was hit by a pitch with one out and advanced to third on a single up the middle by Kelli Sheehan.

Shingler then drove in Oswalt with a single that also advanced Sheehan to third. Zoey Lynch's RBI groundout brought in Sheehan to make it 6-0, and Shingler subsequently came around to score when Seda-Fas reached on an error.

Chloe Hoffman led off the bottom of the third with a double and eventually scored on a two-out single to center by Shingler that extended the Hilltoppers lead to 8-0.

The Panthers got on the board in the top of the fifth. Calli Reough reached on an error to lead off the frame, and she later came home on Tori Foust's two-out double just inside the third-base line.

Westmont Hilltop answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning to close out the contest. Mattie Lugar and Sheehan drew back-to-back walks with one out, and Shingler then lined a double to left field to drive them both in.

"I told myself before the game, 'Just hit the ball hard,' " said Shingler. "Because when you hit the ball hard, good things happen."

Shingler subsequently advanced to third on a wild pitch, and one out later, she sprinted home on another wild pitch to put the Hilltoppers up by 10 and end the game.