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Latrobe coach reflects on softball team's run to PIAA playoffs

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Latrobe's Jess Tatone (21), Madeline Stein (11) and Reilly McCrackenn (3) leave the field following their 9-5 loss to Dubois in their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014, in Slippery Rock.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review</em></div>Latrobe's Jess Tatone (21), Madeline Stein (11) and Reilly McCrackenn (3) leave the field following their 9-5 loss to Dubois in their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014, in Slippery Rock.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Latrobe's Lexie Zoppetti (14) embraces Shelby Noel as they leave the field following their 9-5 loss to Dubois in their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014 in Slippery Rock.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review</em></div>Latrobe's Lexie Zoppetti (14) embraces Shelby Noel as they leave the field following their 9-5 loss to Dubois in their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014 in Slippery Rock.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Latrobe players sit in the outfield following their 9-5 loss to Dubois during their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014, in Slippery Rock.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review</em></div>Latrobe players sit in the outfield following their 9-5 loss to Dubois during their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014, in Slippery Rock.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Latrobe head coach Alexa Bryson takes the ball from starting pitcher Meredith Carr after pulling her from the game in the first inning of their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game against Dubois at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014, in Slippery Rock. Dubois defeated Latrobe, 9-5.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review</em></div>Latrobe head coach Alexa Bryson takes the ball from starting pitcher Meredith Carr after pulling her from the game in the first inning of their PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal playoff game against Dubois at Slippery Rock University on June 5, 2014, in Slippery Rock. Dubois defeated Latrobe, 9-5.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 5:51 p.m.
 

There were a few tears, but more hugs from the players on the Latrobe softball team at the conclusion of last Thursday's PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinal loss to DuBois.

The Wildcats (17-6) saw their season end at the hands of the hot-hitting District 9 champion.

But first-year coach Alexa Bryson said the successful playoff run, which included a victory against WPIAL champion Shaler, should benefit the program.

“I'm so proud of what we accomplished this season,” Bryson said. “There is a bright future ahead with a lot of returners and players coming up. I'm looking forward to next year.”

The Wildcats will return numerous players, including freshman pitcher Meredith Carr, who claimed the job early in the season. Carr isn't alone on the mound, as Bryson has others waiting in the wings.

When Carr struggled against DuBois, Bryson trotted out others to gain valuable experience. Also tossing innings were juniors Rachel Boggs and Amber Reeping and freshman Ashley Pagliei.

“They know they have a short leash,” Bryson said. “We were trying to change things up on DuBois, giving them something different to look at. We have a deep staff.”

Latrobe, which jumped out to a 5-0 lead in a 6-4 win against Shaler on June 2, saw DuBois race to an 8-0 lead in a 9-5 win on June 5.

Bryson said she was pleased that her team refused to quit despite the deficit.

Senior Shelby Noel ended her high school career with three doubles in the loss. She had a key bases-loaded double in the win against Shaler.

Bryson must replace three starters: seniors Noel, second baseman Ashley Perillo and right fielder Lexie Zoppetti.

The seniors went through three coaches in four seasons.

“The seniors were true leaders and I hope they take it into to their futures on and off the field,” Bryson said.

The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie for first place in Section 1-AAAA with Norwin and Penn-Trafford, which Latrobe defeated 2-1 in the third-place game to qualify for the PIAA playoffs.

Juniors Alexis Fearer (center field) and Jenna Adams (third base); sophomores Maddy Stein (shortstop), Jess Tatone (catcher) and Reilly McCracken (left field); and freshman designated player Jenna Raccor are the players Bryson will build around.

Bryson was upbeat about the future. As a former player, she understands what it takes to maintain the Wildcats' success.

“I'm proud of the team for staying strong for seven innings,” Bryson said. “This season adds on to the history Latrobe has in softball.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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