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Gateway battles through stretch to right ship in section

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
Freshman catcher Ufuoma Ogagan had 16 hits — all singles — and 16 stolen bases through a win over Penn Hills on April 18, 2013.

Mother Nature hasn't been kind to area baseball and softball teams this season, and it has created some log-jam scenarios.

The Gateway softball team found itself in such a jam last week with four games in as many days. But the Gators came away from the Section 2-AAAA series of games 3-1 and in a good frame of mind after tough losses to section frontrunners McKeesport, 6-5, and Plum, 10-4.

The four-games-in-four-days stretch started with an 8-6 loss to Woodland Hills at home, but Gateway rebounded the next day and beat the Wolverines 9-5.

The Gators followed the win against Woodland Hills with a 10-6 triumph at Oakland Catholic and a 15-2 rout of Penn Hills.

“The hardest part was regrouping after the loss to Woodland Hills,” Gateway head coach Chuck Myers said.

“That was such a heartbreaking loss. It was within our grasp to win it. We made a couple of costly mistakes in that game, but I told them to keep their chins up, and they responded to stay in the race for a playoff spot. We didn't let the first game against Woodland Hills affect them the next day.”

Gateway entered this week 6-3 in conference play, while Woodland Hills was 4-4. The top three teams from Section 2 make the WPIAL AAAA playoffs, and both the Gators and Wolverines were looking up at McKeesport (7-0) and Plum (6-1).

Gateway exploded against Penn Hills (April 18) to compete the season sweep. The teams split last season, but after a close first three innings, the Gators left no doubt who would be victorious.

Gateway scored 13 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“We had a little talk with them before they came to bat in the fourth,” Myers said. “We had let (Penn Hills) hang around for a couple of innings, but then we came alive.”

Senior Laura Hudec, a four-year starter, collected a double and drove in five runs against Penn Hills.

Freshman Giana Basilone collected three hits, including a triple, and freshman Jasmine Copeland also had three hits.

Junior Kim Mignogna also smacked a triple against the Indians.

Through Thursday's game with Penn Hills, Basilone led the team in hitting at .500 (15 for 30) with three doubles, two triples and two home runs.

Hudec was second in batting at .464 (13 for 28) with two doubles and two triples.

Freshman Ufuoma Ogagan batted .432 (16 for 37). All of her hits were singles, and the speedster was 16 for 17 in stolen-base attempts.

Senior Lauren Henderson (.324), junior Danielle Kochka (.321) and Copeland (.312) also have been hitting well this season.

In the pitching circle, Kochka was 6-2 with a 4.33 earned-run average in 54 innings of work. She struck out 43 and walked 27.

“We've cut the number of errors down dramatically from last year,” Myers said.

“That's been one of the biggest keys. My younger players are performing well and coming through, and the veteran players are providing great leadership.”

Gateway was slated to play Allderdice on Tuesday in the rematch of a 12-0 win in the season opener on April 4.

The game was to be completed past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Gators step away from section action Friday at Fox Chapel at 3:30 p.m.

Gateway closes out section play with a pair of monster games. The Gators host Plum on Tuesday, and Henderson, Hudec and senior Tara McCarl will be honored in a ceremony before the first pitch at 7:30 p.m.

The section schedule concludes with a game at McKeesport on May 2 at 3:30 p.m.

“The girls can't wait to have Plum come here on senior night. That will be emotional for the three seniors and everyone else,” Myers said. “They're also looking forward to another crack at McKeesport. If we cut mistakes and errors, anything can happen.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-3885825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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