Backed into a corner, Penn-Trafford powers past Connellsville

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 | 10:02 PM

Penn-Trafford softball coach Denny Little said he didn’t need any motivational speech prior to Wednesday’s first-place showdown with No. 1 Connellsville.

His team knew what to do.

Junior pitcher Mia Smith pitched her best game of the season and battery mate senior Emma Little went 3 for 4 with a three-run home run to lead Penn-Trafford (3-0, 4-3) to a convincing 9-1 victory at home.

Little said he wasn’t surprised how well Smith started the game.

“I’ve been coaching her since her was 9 years old,” Little said. “When she gets backed into a corner, she’s a tough kid. She came out of the corner fighting.”

Smith began the game by striking out the first seven batters and finished with 15 Ks and one walk. She allowed one run on consecutive hits by Madison Kinneer (double), Jena Hixson and Abby King (RBI double) in the fourth inning.

By then Penn-Trafford had already built an 8-0 lead.

“It’s the best so far,” Smith said. “All my spots were working, especially my curveball.”

Penn-Trafford grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning off freshman pitcher Iris Burd, daughter of Connellsville coach John Burd. Brooke Clelland drew a two-out walk, Emma Little lined a single off the third baseman’s glove and Clelland scored on a hit by Hannah Allen.

“If Mia can keep the opponent from scoring more than three runs, I’m confident we’ll win with our offense,” Denny Little said. “If we average four runs per game or more, it gives her a cushion.”

The Warriors made it 6-0 with a five-run second, highlighted by Little’s blast.

Julia Moorhead started the second inning with a double. An out later, Bri Pusateri bunted for a hit. She swiped second and Lizzy Cermak hit a sacrifice fly to score Moorhead. Allie Prady then singled home Pusateri, and Little then launched a ball over the right-field fence.

“We had a rough start,” Burd said. “We weren’t disciplined and were swinging at a lot of bad pitches.”

Penn-Trafford had 12 hits off two Connellsville hurlers. Prady, Allen and Moorhead (double) each had two hits. Sarah Eisenhuth also doubled. Allen also had two RBIs.

In the third inning, Moorhead scored on Pusateri’s ground out and Sarah Eisenhuth, who doubled, scored on a double steal. Sarah Yamrich singled home a run in the fourth inning.

Smith also was helped by a potent offense.

“Once our offense gets rolling, it helps my confidence and I have less worries about the game,” Smith said. “We had to wake up after we lost to Yough a week ago.”

Kinneer had two hits for the Falcons (1-1, 4-2).

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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