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Softball

Penn-Trafford softball nearing goal of section title

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Penn-Trafford's Frankie Ponziani pitches during a game against Norwin on Monday, May 5, 2014.
Doug Gulasy | Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford's Frankie Ponziani pitches during a game against Norwin on Monday, May 5, 2014.

Members of the Penn-Trafford softball team can't help but think of the year 1992 sometimes.

It's been 22 years since the Warriors won their section championship, a fact many of the players know.

“We've talked about it a lot,” senior pitcher Frankie Ponziani said. “It's to the point where we're like, ‘No one on this team was even born. Maybe we should bring it home.' That's our goal.”

The Warriors (13-2, 8-2) found themselves closer than ever to their goal Monday afternoon, as they knocked off previous section leader Norwin (11-3, 9-3) to claim the top spot for themselves. With games remaining against Franklin Regional and Hempfield, Penn-Trafford could clinch its elusive section title with two wins.

Penn-Trafford, which is staking a reputation as a resilient team, showcased that ability again Monday. The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, only for Norwin to plate a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to tie the score.

The Warriors overcame two injuries in the fifth inning. Pitcher Nicole Smith left the game with the bases loaded and no outs, two batters after being hit in the ankle with a line drive. Center fielder Megan Little also left with an injury after diving for a fly ball.

Ponziani relieved Smith and escaped the jam after allowing a game-tying double, and Cassie Szmyd's two-out, run-scoring single in the top of the seventh inning allowed Penn-Trafford to earn the victory.

“These kids hold each other up,” Penn-Trafford coach Monica Cox said. “Since the beginning of the year, when we struggled a little bit, it's been about everybody holding each other up.”

Szmyd's game-winning single came after a prolonged at-bat that saw her foul off about 10 pitches before delivering the line-drive single.

“I was in front of (the ball),” Szmyd said. “I had to stay back a little bit. I was frustrated, but I just kept going and finally got my hit.

“My heart was beating really fast, and I was nervous, but that's good. That's how an athlete should be whenever they're in a situation like that.”

The victory over Norwin was Penn-Trafford's eighth in a row, and the Warriors had a chance to end the regular season on a 10-game winning streak. Penn-Trafford played Franklin Regional on Tuesday and Hempfield on Wednesday, past the deadline for this week's edition.

The section title was in the Warriors' sights.

“(It would mean) a lot because we haven't had it since 1992, and the seniors weren't even born yet,” Szmyd said. “That was our main goal from the beginning of the season and it's finally coming around, so I'm very excited.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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