Montour shuts out EF to bring home WPIAL title
Montour center fielder Alyssa McMurtrie won't be confused with some of the best power hitters in the WPIAL.
In fact, the No. 9 hitter in the Spartans' lineup had not hit a home run all season despite heading into the WPIAL Class AAA finals against Elizabeth Forward with a .407 average.
McMurtrie couldn't have picked a better time for her first, though, as she went 3 for 4, smacked a line drive home run in the top of the third inning that barely cleared the fence and also singled and scored in the fourth to lead Montour (17-5) to a 7-0 win over Elizabeth Forward (17-7) in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game at California (Pa.) University's Lilley Field. It is the second Class AAA title for the Spartans, who last won in 2010.
“I was watching it go, and I thought it was going to hit the fence, and it just sailed, and I'm not a home run hitter at all,” McMurtrie said. “It was perfect timing. In the WPIAL championship game, there's nothing better to ask for.”
Montour pitcher Kaitlyn Kutchman allowed four hits, struck out six and walked three to win her second WPIAL championship game.
“It was a different kind of team because I think we're a lot better of a hitting team as opposed to a stronger fielding team the last time we won,” Kutchman said. “A lot of it was still the same because we worked really hard all the time.”
Elizabeth Forward starter Portia McBride had a knack for getting out of jams in the postseason, but Montour was able to find holes throughout the game. McMurtrie, Stacy Capp and Allison Hryadil each contributed three hits to a 16-hit attack.
“Our first approach was that we knew we could hit her. We've studied her, and we had her on film,” Montour coach Bill Wills said. “We also were able to take our time. We knew that if she got behind in the count that she would start coming in there with strikes we could hit.”
The Warriors only chance to make a dent against Kutchman came in the bottom of the fifth when, trailing 5-0, the Warriors loaded the bases with two outs. Kutchman came through again, however, as Elizabeth Forward cleanup hitter McKenna Kern struck out swinging.
“I think when you look at it, it was the opportunity we had to break out at that point because you don't know what would happen after that,” Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford said. “If we score a couple runs at that point, it might mean a different ballgame.”
Both teams have qualified for the PIAA Class AAA playoffs and will play Monday at sites and times to be determined. Montour will take on District 9 champion Punxsutawney, and Elizabeth Forward will play District 10 winner Fort LeBoeuf.
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.