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Latrobe softball ekes out 9-inning win over Mt. Lebanon in WPIAL 1st round

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Monday, May 15, 2017, 9:06 p.m.
Latrobe's Karley Kovatch drives in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a WPIAL first round playoff game against Mt. Lebanon Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Karley Kovatch drives in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a WPIAL first round playoff game against Mt. Lebanon Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Latrobe's Karley Kovatch (second from left) is mobbed by teammates after driving in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of their WPIAL first round playoff game against Mt. Lebanon Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Karley Kovatch (second from left) is mobbed by teammates after driving in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of their WPIAL first round playoff game against Mt. Lebanon Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Latrobe's Karley Kovatch tags out Mt. Lebanon's Emily Amato at third base during the seventh inning of their WPIAL first round playoff game Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Karley Kovatch tags out Mt. Lebanon's Emily Amato at third base during the seventh inning of their WPIAL first round playoff game Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Latrobe's Angela DiOrio steals second base under Mt. Lebanon's Jaira Cowie during the ninth inning of their WPIAL first round playoff game Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Angela DiOrio steals second base under Mt. Lebanon's Jaira Cowie during the ninth inning of their WPIAL first round playoff game Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Mt. Lebanon's Jaira Cowie tags out Latrobe's Karley Kovatch during their WPIAL first round playoff game Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Mt. Lebanon's Jaira Cowie tags out Latrobe's Karley Kovatch during their WPIAL first round playoff game Monday, May 15, 2017, at Gateway High School.

While her right arm might beg to differ, Latrobe sophomore Kiley Myers is glad softball does not have any pitch-count rules. She's even gladder her team is moving on in the WPIAL postseason.

“We want to go deep in the playoffs, and this is the first step,” Myers said. “It's nice to know we're moving on.”

Myers smiled candidly with an ice pack pressed on her right shoulder Monday after throwing 118 pitches on the way to a playoff gem. She struck out 16 in a commanding complete-game victory as the No. 6-seeded Wildcats edged No. 11 Mt. Lebanon, 2-1, in nine innings in a WPIAL Class 6A first-round game at Gateway High School in Monroeville.

Myers' performance was punctuated by Karley Kovatch's winning, one-out single in the bottom of the ninth that scored Angela DiOrio, who reached on an error to open the inning.

Myers walked only one, gave up six hits and allowed a pair of baserunners via a third-strike wild pitch and an error.

Latrobe (11-7) advances to play No. 3 Seneca Valley (14-5) in Wednesday's quarterfinals.

“Kylie gets up there and brings it,” Latrobe coach Rick Kozusko said. “She has really come a long way. We talked about how if you play this game, there are going to be errors. You have to have a short memory. Kylie showed that.”

Myers was cruising along with a 1-0 lead when she made an error in the seventh that allowed Mt. Lebanon (7-7) to tie it. Kate Barone's spinning slapper back to the circle got past Myers, and Danielle Malizio raced home for the tying run.

While that play was forgettable, Latrobe also had a run-saving play to remember in the seventh. With runners at second and third, third baseman Makayla Munchinski fielded a bunt grounder by Jaira Cowie. Instead of firing to first, Munchinski pump-faked that way, held the ball and fired to Kovatch at third to get Emily Amato out.

No damage done. After Myers' error, it became no further damage done as the game drifted into extra innings.

“We practice that,” Kozusko said. “But Makayla is an instinctive ball player. That was all her; she made the play. That was a huge out.”

After a scoreless eighth and top of the ninth, where Myers recorded three Ks, the Wildcats rallied to end it. DiOrio stole second, and Michelle Malizio made a diving catch in left to rob Munchinski of a hit.

Kovatch, an IUP recruit, followed and ripped a sinking liner to Michelle Malizio, who had the ball clip her glove and fall in for the winner.

“I knew I had to drive it,” said Kovatch, who went 2 for 4. “This is a reliever for us. Now that we got past this one it's like the pressure's off and we can just play now.

“Kylie was amazing today. She knows how to pump us up. She hits her spots; That rise ball is deadly.”

Latrobe went ahead 1-0 in the third on an RBI double by Sarah Blair. Rebecca Tatone, who reached on an error, scored from second on the play.

Megan Detrick had a triple for the Blue Devils.

Kozusko said a couple of extra-inning games this season, including a 6-5 win over Connellsville four days ago in eight innings, helped the Wildcats better feel out the situation.

“The last couple of games, against Penn-Trafford and Connellsville, the girls played well,” Kozusko said. “Those kind of games helped prepare us for playoff ball. You're going to have games that come down to the wire.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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