Connellsville knocks off No. 2 Latrobe; Tallman leaves with injury

Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 11:31 PM

Latrobe softball’s pitching depth has again been tested.

After senior Kiley Myers, a Marist recruit, suddenly left the team just four games into the season, sophomore Jordan Tallman took the reigns in the circle.

And Tallman was brilliant, posting a 9-1 record with 138 strikeouts in 67 innings through her first 10 starts.

But, during the fourth inning of Thursday’s 4-2 loss to Connellsville, Tallman left the game with left leg discomfort, as the Falcons (7-3, 6-2) held off the No. 2 Wildcats (10-2, 7-2) in Section 1-5A play.

“With her pitching motion, she’s been putting some torque on it, and it’s been bothering her,” Latrobe coach Rick Kozusko said. “So, today, it came to a head and we had to get her out of there without risking her or hurting her any further.”

Before Tallman exited, she appeared to not be as dominant as she has shown this season, allowing two runs on three hits, with four strikeouts, being dealt just her second loss of the year.

“Just before we took her out, at the end, I could see it,” Kozusko added of the apparent discomfort. “But, early on, she was doing well.”

Connellsville plated a pair of runs off Tallman on a double by Jenna Hixson in the second inning. During the Falcons’ second at bat of the fourth, Tallman was pulled.

Enter Latrobe’s third pitcher, JV starter Sophie Schmucker.

The Falcons ripped off three straight on Schmucker, scoring two runs in the inning. Mia Burd drove in one on a triple and Hixson another with a base hit.

“We want to be aggressive every pitch, no matter who is in there,” Connellsville coach John Burd said. “Our strategy was to not let her get ahead in counts. We always want to be aggressive. I always tell the kids, if you’re going to make a mistake, make it being aggressive.”

Despite the early struggles, Schmucker was able to settle down, not allowing a run over the final three innings.

“She’s been a very pleasant surprise for us,” Kozusko said. “She’s done a nice job in JV ball. She hadn’t had an opportunity yet in varsity action. But she showed today that she’s very capable of doing very well.”

Latrobe, which was able to score its first run on a perfectly executed double steal, cut Connellsville’s lead to 4-2 on Hannah Brewer’s fielder’s choice in the sixth inning. But Falcons pitcher Mia Burd, a Cornell recruit and daughter of the coach, shut the door in the seventh.

“We just weren’t disciplined up there,” Kozusko said. “We were swinging at some bad pitches. We had to make her work. We had to swing at mistakes or a pitch that she gives us. You can’t let the good ones go by, because she’s not going to give you any. She’s very impressive.”

Connellsville’s win puts the Falcons just a half-game back of Latrobe for second place in the section, with a head-to-head victory in its pocket and a rematch to come May 3.

“That’s a big win for us,” Burd said. “It gives us a lot of confidence to keep building on it. We’ve been getting better and better. We started out a little bit slow this year, but we’ve been coming on, and I’m very proud of the girls.”

“This section, these are the kinds of games we’re going to be involved in,” Kozusko added. “So we’ve got to be ready to go to face these teams these next few weeks.”

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