Armstrong pounds out 14 hits to avenge loss to Penn-Trafford

Friday, April 19, 2024 | 9:33 PM

When the Penn-Trafford softball team defeated Armstrong a month ago in Kittanning, the weather was cold.

It was a different story when Armstrong played in Harrison City on Friday. The River Hawks’ bats were smoking.

Armstrong (9-1, 5-1) pounded out 14 hits and gained a split in the season series by defeating Penn-Trafford, 8-4, in a Section 2-5A first-place battle. The Warriors, who won the first meeting 11-3 on April 5, fell to 6-4, 4-2 in section play.

“It was a miserable day two weeks ago,” Armstrong coach Keith Shaffer said. “It was cold, snowy, and I guess we’re not a cold-weather team.

“We played a lot better, and we got some timely hits. We’ve been playing well since that loss.”

Armstrong has won six consecutive games and is tied with Latrobe (5-1) atop the section.

The River Hawks never trailed in the game. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Emma Paul, who had three hits, doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shelby Cloak.

They stretched the lead to 3-0 in the third inning when Jesse Pugh singled home a pair.

Penn-Trafford had a chance to answer Armstrong’s run in the bottom of the first inning. The Warriors had two on and no outs when Cam Ponko lined into a double play.

“That took the wind out of our sails for sure,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “I usually tell the runners to freeze on a liner, and the time I didn’t, that happens. Armstrong played well and out-hit us. They got the timely hits, and we didn’t.”

Penn-Trafford cut the Armstrong lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning when Allyson Pokrant, who had three hits, scored on a sacrifice fly by Mackenzie Keenan.

But Armstrong answered by scoring two runs in the fifth inning and a single run in the sixth inning to chase Penn-Trafford starter Pokrant.

“Getting to see her a second time was big for our players,” Shaffer said. “Allyson handled us the first time. Penn-Trafford is a good team. They didn’t quit and came back on us.”

The Warriors scored three runs in the sixth inning on a Kylie Anthony homer and three consecutive singles by Pokrant, Ponko and Keenan (two RBIs).

But Rachel Ban came on in relief of Madison Baker and killed the threat. She retired all five batters she faced.

“Madison is a bulldog,” Shaffer said. “She had things working until the sixth inning. Rachel came in and did a great job. She just lacks varsity experience.”

Armstrong tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning on a two-run single by Maddie Sturgeon.

Jordyn Klingensmith had three hits, and Abigail Bauer added a double.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at

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