Pitching catapults Southmoreland over West Mifflin
Southmoreland's softball team is making a statement in Section 3-AAA.
On Tuesday, the Scotties picked up their fourth section victory in as many tries with a 3-2 win over visiting West Mifflin.
The Scotties (4-1, 4-0) received strong starting pitching from freshman Katie Troisi and outstanding relief work from senior Anna Marie Gatti to lay claim to the top spot in the standings.
Troisi struck out four and gave up just one earned run on four hits in four innings.
With the Scotties leading by a run heading into the fifth, Gatti worked the final three innings, surrendering just two hits and recording eight strikeouts.
“Think about a freshman pitching against one of the top teams in the section,” Southmoreland coach Todd Bunner said. “She threw a great game. And to have a pitcher like Anna Marie come in and do what she is doing is pretty incredible. I'm blessed with that luxury.”
Southmoreland wasn't the only team to receive strong pitching.
The Titans' Paige Flore also performed well in the circle. The senior worked six innings, giving up six hits to go along with six strikeouts and one walk.
“It was a great game, and we expected it to be close,” West Mifflin coach Casey Phillips said. “We knew it was going to come down to who could manufacture the runs, and they manufactured one more run than we did.”
The Titans (7-2, 2-2) grabbed the lead in the first inning as Flore struck out but reached on a passed ball.
She eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Alyssa Cairns. Southmoreland came right back in its half of the first as Briana Bunner tripled in Troisi and scored on an RBI single by Vanessa Richards.
West Mifflin managed to tie the score in the second. Chelsea Hess tripled and scored on a groundout by Crystal Cook.
But then the Scotties took the lead for good in the third as Troisi singled, moved into scoring position on a single by Bunner and scored on a groundout by Gatti.
That was all the offense either team could muster the rest of the way as pitching took over.
The Scotties finished with just six hits but delivered in clutch situations, especially early.
“We didn't have a ton of hits, but when we needed them, we got them,” Todd Bunner said. “We played good defense, too.”
Cairns, Hess and Cook finished with two hits each for West Mifflin, but the big hit at the end of the game eluded the Titans.
“We are a fairly balanced team, and we have people that can hit,” Phillips said. “We just have to be more consistent.”
For the Scotties, it's been a nice start to the season, but Todd Bunner understands there is a long way to go.
“The significance of this win is that it's just another game in our section,” he said. “Every section game is big, and as long as we're competitive, we'll be OK.”
Both teams have Yough next up on the schedule. West Mifflin hosts Yough on Wednesday. Southmoreland travels to Yough on Thursday.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.