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Penn-Trafford again bounces Plum in WPIAL playoffs

| Monday, May 19, 2014, 7:33 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Plum’s (left) Michaela Palmieri is consoled by Jordan Seneca after Penn-Trafford beat the Mustangs in the second round of the WPIAL playoffs Monday, May 18, 2014, at Fox Chapel.

Penn-Trafford came prepared for its WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinal matchup with heavy-hitting Plum. As a result, the Warriors sent the Mustangs home from the postseason for the second straight year.

Frankie Ponziani and Nicole Smith combined for a five-hitter, and the No. 3 Warriors (15-3) took advantage of four Plum errors in a 6-2 victory Monday at Fox Chapel. The Warriors will play No. 2 Shaler in the Class AAAA semifinals Wednesday, at a time and site to be determined.

“We practiced a lot, so I had higher expectations, but overall, I'm extremely proud of them,” Penn-Trafford coach Monica Cox said. “Frankie shut them down for a certain amount of time, and Nicole comes flying in after that. Our pitching was definitely on today.”

Plum (16-4) came into Monday's game averaging nearly 12 runs, but Ponziani blanked the Mustangs for the first three innings. After the Mustangs' Melissa LeClair hit a two-run home run in the fourth, Smith entered and shut Plum out for the final 3 13 innings, striking out five.

“We were kind of surprised that they pitched (Ponziani),” Plum coach Jim McGrath said. “But I can kind of see why they did it because Ponziani's not as fast as Nicole. Then they threw Nicole in to change it up, which is good strategy.”

Penn-Trafford had an 11-day layoff between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, but the Warriors jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Sarah Koscho led off the frame with a single, and Cassie Surmasz reached when third baseman LeClair bobbled her sacrifice bunt attempt. Koscho scored when LeClair couldn't handle a throw on a force attempt at third, and the second run came in on Hannah Dobrinick's fielder's choice.

The Warriors widened the lead to 3-0 in the third. After Jess Zavolta reached on a LeClair throwing error, Cassie Szmyd singled in a run.

“We've had games where we were behind maybe four or five runs, and we've come back,” McGrath said. “The determination is there, and we've come through and started pounding the ball and the next thing you know, we're 10-running a team. (The deficit) didn't really bother me at all.”

LeClair's two-run homer made it a 3-2 game in the fourth, but the Warriors got both runs back in the bottom of the inning on pinchhitter Marissa Bacco's single.

“I knew Marissa could hit that type of pitching,” Cox said. “She loves it. At the beginning of the year, her confidence wasn't as good, but now, I knew whenever I put her in (that) it was on. I even said to the baserunners, ‘She's got it.' ”

The Warriors scored their last run in the fifth, when Dobrinick doubled, moved up on an error and scored on Megan Little's sacrifice fly.

Plum's last threat came in the sixth, when Hannah Adamski led off with a double, but second baseman Meghan Marasti snared Ashley Oravetz's line drive up the middle and turned it into a double play.

P-T eliminated Plum in the first round last year 7-0 before falling to Canon-McMillan in the next round.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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