Mt. Pleasant softball prepared for West Mifflin
Mt. Pleasant first-year softball coach Monica Cox is doing her best to make sure her team is prepared for its WPIAL Class AAA playoff game against West Mifflin at 5 p.m. Thursday at Hempfield.
“I'm a nervous wreck,” she said. “I haven't slept in three days.”
Cox is doing all she can to scout the Titans. She has spent numerous hours listening to audio recordings of West Mifflin's games during the regular season. The reason for Cox's dedication? She wants to uncover any hidden advantage her team can use.
“We have the potential to be a really good team,” Cox said. “They are such good athletes, and I have 150 percent confidence in their ability. They can beat anybody out there.”
However, Cox noted that sometimes, the Vikings' biggest opponent is their own psyche. She said a lack of confidence has spelled trouble for her team, including a pair of losses in scrimmages this week against Brownsville and Carmichaels.
“We were playing well, but then we had the two scrimmages, and we made a lot of mental errors,” Cox said. “We weren't doing the little things. It's the little things like base running and good at-bats that win you these games.”
The Vikings hope they have flushed the bad play.
When Mt. Pleasant is playing well, it is getting contributions throughout the lineup.
Paige Hertzog and Derica Crowley have alternated between the top two spots in the order.
Hertzog is hitting .455 and Crowley is batting .332. Ashley Pospisil, who has been hitting in the third spot, is batting .355. Pospisil also figures to get the start on the mound. She has compiled a 7-7 record and has 76 strikeouts.
Mt. Pleasant (11-9) finished second in Section 4-AAA. The Vikings have qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for eight straight seasons. Yet during that time, the Vikings have just two playoff wins.
West Mifflin (15-4), the Section 3-AAA runner-up, will be making its first trip to the playoffs since 1998.
“Some people think that not being in there before would be a disadvantage for them,” Cox said. “But I think it's an advantage because they have nothing to lose. I know they have good hitters and their pitcher is pretty good.”
The Titans feature several stout hitters, including Kaylyn Andress and Marla Small, who are hitting .446 and .431, respectively. Lauren Ackerman and Alyssa Carins are hitting .361. Small leads the team with 28 RBI.
Pitcher Paige Flore has 10 wins and 78 strikeouts.
For the Titans, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in 15 years is nice, but West Mifflin coach Casey Phillips said he hopes his team isn't satisfied with just making it to the postseason.
“At the beginning of the year, we would have been happy to be there, but then we started to think about what we can do to be successful in the playoffs,” Phillips said.
“It's now a four-game season, and we feel like we are good enough to win four games.”
Phillips said his team has performed well in recent weeks, including a scrimmage against Plum on Saturday.
“They seem to be a very consistent team offensively and defensively,” Phillips said of Mt. Pleasant. “They are well-coached. If we can hit the ball the way we are capable, I think we can win any game. We can't be complacent. We can't be happy just getting there.”
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.