Latrobe rallies past P-T, gets spot in state playoffs
Latrobe didn't have many chances in Thursday's WPIAL Class AAAA softball third-place playoff game against Section 1 rival Penn-Trafford, but it took advantage of the one it got in the sixth inning.
The Wildcats (16-5) scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth, the winning run scoring on Ashley Perillo's third hit of the game, to help them rally for a 2-1 victory at West Mifflin.
Rain on Tuesday and Wednesday forced the WPIAL to change sites from Hempfield to the turf at West Mifflin.
The victory puts Latrobe (16-5) in the PIAA playoffs Monday against Shaler (17-3).
Penn-Trafford (15-5) and Latrobe split two games this season. For five-plus innings, it looked like the Warriors would win the series.
But Latrobe, which saw its only other scoring opportunity dashed by a spectacular diving catch by center fielder Cassie Szmyd in the second inning, took advantage of consecutive walks to Nicole Dunlap and Alexis Fearer to open the sixth inning.
Penn-Trafford coach Monica Cox decided to replace starting pitcher Frankie Ponziani with Nicole Smith.
After Lexie Zoppetti bunted Dunlap and Fearer to second and third, Smith got Shelby Noel to fly out to shallow center field. The throw home, however, got past catcher Jess Zavolta, allowing Dunlap to score the tying run.
Perillo then drove in the winning run by dropping a single over third baseman Tori Lago.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play,” Perillo said. “After we tied the score, the pressure was off me.”
Winning pitcher Meredith Carr, who allowed an unearned run in the first inning on a hit by Szmyd, retired Penn-Trafford in order in the top of the seventh inning to clinch the win.
“It was a matter that we cashed in when we had to,” Latrobe coach Alexa Bryson said. “We did what we had to do, and things fell in place for us. We got the two walks, the wild pitch and the error.”
Penn-Trafford had chances, too. It had a runner gunned down at the plate by Latrobe center fielder Fearer to end the first inning, it loaded the bases in the second and had the first two runners on base in the fifth inning.
Penn-Trafford stranded 10 runners.
Cox did not want to talk with reporters after the game, but assistant coach Rich Ginther said, “The loss is tough to swallow. Losing the way we did is tough.
“We stranded too many runners, and we did not have good plate discipline. We had our chances.”