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Penn-Trafford softball shuts out Plum in first-round defeat

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:05 p.m.
Gary Bills | For the Plum Advance Leader
Junior Stella Pratt will return for her fourth year as a starter in 2014.

The Plum varsity softball team tried to break a streak of first-round eliminations from the WPIAL Quad-A playoffs that dated back more than a decade when it faced Penn-Trafford last week.

But the Warriors made several clutch defensive plays to thwart Mustangs scoring rallies and got timely offense to score a 7-0 victory.

“That's the way it is: sometimes you get ‘em, sometimes you don't,” said Mustangs coach Jim McGrath about some of the hard-hit balls that didn't turn into hits or produce runs.

“I know we hit the ball a lot harder than the first time we played them.”

The first time Plum and Penn-Trafford played, a regular-season game on April 26, the Warriors shut out Plum, 9-0, to snap the Mustangs' five-game winning streak.

Plum had scored a total of 71 runs in those five section games before the shutout.

In the playoff game, Penn-Trafford scored single runs in the first four innings as they collected several hits and took advantage of four Plum errors.

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

Penn-Trafford, the eighth seed, faced top-seeded Canon-McMillan in the quarterfinals Monday, and the Warriors lost, 6-0.

Plum's varsity season started with a 17-0 victory over Penn Hills on the team's new field at Plum High School. Plum went 8-2 overall and 5-1 in section on its home field.

“The girls were excited to play on their own field this year,” McGrath said.

“There was a lot of pride each time they took the field for games and even practices. It was special for them.”

McGrath will have to say goodbye to four senior starters — Annie Workman, Amy Flynn, Lyndi Gareis and Savannah Zummo.

Workman started in center field for the Mustangs, and she batted .291 (16 for 55). Her lone home run of the season was a big one, as the three-run shot capped off a home-opening win over Penn Hills.

Flynn started at second and collected 14 hits, including two triples, in 51 at bats. She drove in 10 runs and scored 12 times.

Gareis held down hitting and pitching duties this year. She went 10 for 36 (.278) at the plate with four doubles, and she went 5-4 in the pitching circle with 28 earned runs and 42 strikeouts in 64 13 innings of work.

Zummo battled through a shoulder injury this season. As the designated player and an outfielder, she collected 54 at bats and amassed 18 hits, including a home run, for a .333 batting average

“We will miss the seniors quite a bit,” McGrath said.

“They all had big roles on the team, and they were great leaders for the younger girls.”

A core of four juniors who will be four-year starters next season will help fuel the Plum squad, McGrath said.

Jordan Seneca, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit for softball, led the team in batting at .564 (31 for 55) with 10 doubles, four triples and five home runs. She finished with a .653 on-base percentage, also collecting 16 walks, and stole a team-best 13 bases.

Melissa LeClair moved to catcher this season after the graduation of Hunter DeShong, and at the plate, LeClair led the team with six home runs and 32 runs batted in.

She finished with a .426 average.

Ashley Oravetz patrolled the infield at first base, and she batted .400 (22 for 55) with 18 runs batted in. The RBI total was third on the team behind LeClair and Seneca.

Stella Pratt played in left field and collected two triples, a home run and 12 RBI.

“Those four juniors will be leaders on and off the field,” McGrath said.

Junior Karlie Serakowski also was a key contributor for the Mustangs, as she drove in 11 runs, scored eight runs and was 3-1 in the pitching circle.

Sophomore Jess Bitsura led the pitching staff with six wins in eight decisions.

Others contributing to the varsity team this season included junior Sam Billstone, sophomores Rachel Adamski and Kaitlyn Mallik and freshmen Ryley Handyside and Hannah Adamski

“The team will be as strong again next season,” McGrath said.

George Guido, a freelance writer, contributed to this report.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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