Defense shines for Penn-Trafford softball in playoff win

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 11:06 p.m.

The Plum Mustangs hit the ball well during Tuesday's opening-round Class AAAA softball game at Gateway High School, but Penn-Trafford was up to the task.

Several sparkling defensive plays and an opportunistic offense led Penn-Trafford to a 7-0 victory, spelling another playoff disappointment for the Mustangs.

The Mustangs have been eliminated in the first round 10 times since 2000.

The top of the first was an indication of what was to come for Plum.

Stella Pratt walked, and Jordan Seneca followed with a one-out single.

Melissa LeClair scorched a liner at Warriors first baseman Cassie Szymd, who made the catch and doubled Seneca off first.

In the third with none out, Plum had Ashley Oravetz at third and Lyndi Gareis at first.

After a force play at second and a popup to short, Seneca hit a sinking liner to center field. Dani Wally made a catch near her shoe tops to end the inning.

LeCalir opened the fourth with a double but was stranded at third.

Meanwhile, Penn-Trafford was scoring solo runs in the first four innings to build a commanding lead.

“That's the way it is: sometimes you get 'em, sometimes you don't,” said Mustangs coach Jim McGrath about the hard-hit balls that didn't fall in. “I know we hit the ball a lot harder than the first time we played them.”

The Warriors defeated Plum, 9-0, just 18 days ago.

“The last six or seven games, they've been knocking everything down and making the plays they have to make,” Penn-Trafford coach Sam Denillo said.

Nicole Smith pitched a complete game for the Warriors, though she struck out just three.

“Nicole kept the ball down and moved the ball around,” Denillo said. “We either popped it up or put it on the ground, and the girls have been making all of the plays.”

Penn-Trafford took advantage of four Plum errors in the first four innings.

Ashleigh Yanniruberto reached base on an error and scored on another Mustangs miscue in the first.

Jessica Savolta opened the third with a single and scored on a bunt by pinch hitter Sammi Petrelli.

Lex Ryan drove home Yanniruberto in the fourth to make it 4-0.

The Warriors broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off home run by Kelsey Surmacz. Wally and Ryan both doubled and scored to ice the decision.

“The girls played hard the whole way, and I'm proud of how hard they worked to get here,” McGrath said.

Penn-Trafford will face top-seeded Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals May 21 at a site and time to be determined.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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