Mount Pleasant, Yough softball finally meet
It seemed inevitable Mt. Pleasant and Yough would face each other on the softball diamond at some point this season.
Section realignment separated the squads this year. They were supposed to play a nonsection game, but weather wiped out that meeting. Finally, they will square off — with a berth to the PIAA Class 4A championship on the line at 4 p.m. Monday at Cal (Pa.).
“Oh yeah, it's always fun to play them,” Mt. Pleasant coach Lauren Shaheen said. “It's always exciting. The girls are definitely pumped up to play.”
Yough (19-3) swept both games from the Vikings (15-3) last year en route to the PIAA Class 3A title.
“It should be a real good game,” Yough coach Dutch Harvey said. “They were in our section last year, and we had good success against them. But every year is a new year. They should be a good test for us.”
Yough has not allowed a run in the PIAA tournament. After falling to Belle Vernon, 4-1, for the WPIAL title, the Cougars blanked Bellefonte (2-0) and Kennard-Dale (11-0) in the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
“We made some lineup changes and got some people in different spots. It seems to be working pretty good right now,” Harvey said. “We still have some things work on.”
Mt. Pleasant posted a 5-4 upset win over Belle Vernon in the PIAA quarterfinals, avenging a 1-0 WPIAL semifinal loss.
“A game like that where it's truly going back and forth — we had to come back to take the lead three different times throughout the game — is a nail-biter, but it breeds confidence and the drive to win,” Shaheen said. “I've seen them mature a lot through the year.”
Junior Meadow Uncapher, a Seton Hill recruit, got the pitching win against Belle Vernon. However, sophomore Caroline Alincic saw time in the circle. Both could pitch against Yough.
“I don't know what I did to be lucky enough to have two capable pitchers. Usually, you're excited if just have one,” Shaheen said. “I have two college-level pitchers on the team.”
Yough sophomore Kierra Waywood pitched a four-hitter against Kennard-Dale and a five-hitter against Bellefonte. The Cougars scored seven runs in the first two innings of their quarterfinal wins.
“This is their time of year. Those seniors want to get back to the state championship. Once you get there, you just want to get back,” Harvey said. “Our girls have been in pressure games. We have seven starters back from last year, and they know what it takes to get back to the state championship. They are hungry to do it.”
Hempfield streak intact
The Spartans (25-0) hope to return to the state championship game with a win against Chambersburg (17-5) on Monday at Mt. Aloysius in a PIAA Class 6A semifinal.
Hempfield has won its last 39 games. The Spartans overcame adversity to continue that streak. Morgan Ryan's homer was the difference in a 1-0 win over Central York in the first round. The squad needed eight innings to post a 5-0 decision over Eric McDowell on Thursday.
Ryan, Pennsylvania's Gatorade Player of the Year, leads the way in the pitching circle.
The Notre Dame recruit pitched a two-hitter and struck out 12 in the quarterfinal win. She is 20-0 with 11 shutouts this season.
Chambersburg scored three runs in the top of the first in a 3-1 win over Perkiomen Valley. The Trojans beat Latrobe, 4-2, in the first round.
Hempfield beat Chambersburg, 2-0, in the PIAA Class 4A semifinals last year at Mt. Aloysius.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.