Roundup: Plum looks to keep rolling against Penn-Trafford
Class AAAA quarterfinals
No. 6 Plum (16-3) vs. No. 3 Penn-Trafford (14-3)
Time, site: 3 p.m. Monday at Fox Chapel
Winner plays: No. 2 Shaler (14-3)/No. 10 Bethel Park (11-4) winner.
Extra bases: Plum already has put together the best season in school history with its first playoff win. But advancing farther in the bracket would be a bonus. Plum edged Baldwin, 4-3, in the first round as senior shortstop and St. Francis (Pa.) recruit Jordan Seneca homered, tripled and singled. Her triple in the bottom of the seventh set the stage for senior third baseman Melissa LeClair, whose one-out sacrifice fly scored Seneca for the win. ... Penn-Trafford had a first-round bye, so the Warriors haven't played since May 7 when they lost to Hempfield, 7-1. They won nine straight before that loss and still celebrated their first section championship since 1992. They shared Section 1-AAAA with Norwin and Latrobe. Junior pitcher Nicole Smith (7-2, 85 strikeouts) has the ability to take over games. Other key players are catcher Jessica Zavolta, senior first baseman Cassie Szymd and senior shortstop Ashley Yanniruberto.
Class AA quarterfinals
No. 2 Deer Lakes (16-0) vs. No. 10 McGuffey (14-3)
Time, site: 4 p.m. Monday at Cal (Pa.)
Winner plays: No. 3 Seton-La Salle (11-2)/No. 6 Riverside (11-2) winner.
Extra bases: Deer Lakes will be seeking its fourth straight trip to the WPIAL semifinals. And speaking of trips, the Lancers will have had two notably long ones for a No. 2 seed. They played Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the first round at Baldwin. In that game, the Lancers escaped with a 2-1 win despite being outhit 8-2. Junior shortstop Katie Gozzard had both hits, and junior pitcher Tiffany Edwards (14-0, 94 strikeouts) struck out 10. Last year, Deer Lakes toppled McGuffey, 13-3, in the quarterfinals. Gozzard went 4 for 5 with five RBIs. The Lancers, WPIAL finalists the past two years, trailed 2-0 in that game. ... McGuffey blanked Charleroi, 4-0, in the first round. That game also was played at Cal. Hard-throwing senior pitcher Cassie Weiss struck out seven in a three-hit shutout. She has 167 strikeouts this season and allowed only five Charleroi hitters to reach base. Deer Lakes, however, had 16 hits against her in last season's meeting. Senior infielder Marlie Mounts is a key offensive contributor. She had an RBI double in the first round. Weiss and her sister, Sammie, are former travel softball teammates of Deer Lakes senior first baseman Sierra Sarver.
No. 8 Burrell (13-3) vs. No. 1 Beaver (13-0)
Time, site: 2 p.m. Monday at Hampton (Field No. 3)
Winner plays: No. 4 Keystone Oaks (12-4)/No. 5 Waynesburg (13-8) winner.
Extra bases: Burrell needed extra innings but avenged a first-round loss to Steel Valley with a 2-1 victory in nine innings at Plum. Junior Haley Kuzmirek hit a pinch-hit double in the top of the seventh to tie the game 1-1 and delivered a solo home run off of Steel Valley star Maddie Cotter in the ninth for the game-winner. Steel Valley won 2-1 last year. Burrell lost in the first round the past two seasons. Several key players also played on the school's state semifinal basketball team, so playoff pressure is nothing new to them. That group includes seniors Jaila Manga and Kelsey Oddis. ... A returning semifinalist, Beaver hasn't lost since last year's semis (11-7, to Deer Lakes). Five of the Bobcats' wins have come via shutout. Sophomore pitcher Casey Farkasovsky (13-0) has 102 strikeouts and has hit eight home runs. Senior right fielder Bella Valent was the catcher last season but was replaced by freshman Tayven Rousseau. Beaver's other eight starters return from last season.
— Bill Beckner Jr.