Southmoreland's first-inning errors allow game's only run in loss to Yough
The Southmoreland softball team has been competitive in nearly all of its games this season.
But this week has been a tough one for the Scotties; they failed to cross the fine line between being competitive and being victorious.
After dropping a narrow 2-1 decision to West Mifflin on Tuesday, the Scotties again suffered a one-run setback Thursday, losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to visiting Yough in a key Section 3-AAA game for both teams.
“This is the third loss (this year) that we've had by one run,” Southmoreland coach Kim Kelley said. “We definitely would have liked to have come out of this week at 3-3. I don't know how big of a hole we have dug ourselves, but now it's a little deeper.”
The Scotties (2-4, 2-4) dug themselves a hole against the Cougars (5-3, 3-3) by committing two costly errors in the first inning.
With one out, Ashlyn Hoak reached on a throwing error and moved to third base on a groundout. Then, with two outs, a dropped pop fly allowed the game's only run to score.
Yough pitcher Macy Mularski and Southmoreland pitcher Anna Gatti were tough. Each tossed a five-hitter. Mularski finished with eight strikeouts, and Gatti tallied five.
Gatti left a runner in scoring position in the second, third, fifth and seventh innings to help keep the Scotties in the game.
But Southmoreland couldn't break through against Mularski despite having a couple of golden opportunities.
Mularski was perfect through three innings, but in the fourth, the Scotties' Vanessa Richards and Gatti hit back-to-back one-out singles. Both runners were in scoring position, but Mularski got a strikeout to end the threat.
“She did amazing,” Yough coach Lucas Cannizzaro said about Mularski. He also pointed out the strong defensive game by catcher Hoak.
“(Mularski) is a freshman, and this was her first shutout.”
The shutout almost was lost in the sixth. Southmoreland's Rikki Brown ripped a hard grounder to start the inning. The ball slid under the glove of Yough second baseman Jojo Sterner and then skipped past the right fielder Melaina Brown.
The two errors allowed Rikki Brown to race around third and head for home. But Melaina Brown and Sterner made up for their mistakes by executing a perfect relay to the plate, and Brown was tagged out by Hoak.
“You have one of the fastest girls in the section rounding the bases, but the two kids that had the ball go through their legs made the play, and it was nice redemption for them,” Cannizzaro said.
Trailing by a run, the Scotties were desperate to get the game tied.
“We tried to get a little too aggressive,” Kelley said. “But we were down a run and we tried to make things happen. They made the play.”
The Scotties had the tying run on first in the seventh, but Mularski finished the game with a pair of strikeouts.
“This was a big game,” Cannizzaro said. “We're both fighting for playoff spots in the section and this brings us back to 3-3, so we really needed this one.”
Gatti and Kristen Suhan each had two hits for Southmoreland. Hoak had two hits for the Cougars.