Despite turnover, Mt. Pleasant softball looking to defend WPIAL, PIAA titles

Sunday, March 20, 2022 | 5:25 PM

Mt. Pleasant softball coach Chris Brunson said he’d be doing his team a disservice if he didn’t expect big things from them.

So the goals for the Vikings are simple: win the section, qualify for the WPIAL playoffs, win another WPIAL title and then a second consecutive PIAA title.

Mt. Pleasant defeated Mid-Valley, 5-3, last season in the PIAA Class 3A championship game. It was the Vikings’ second state title. They finished 21-3 overall and 8-1 in Section 3 (3A).

“If you don’t teach the players to be champions, it just doesn’t happen,” Brunson said. “You have to condition them to shoot for championships.”

Brunson has some holes to fill with the graduation of shortstop Hannah Gnibus (Pitt-Johnstown), first baseman Courtney Poulich (Liberty), catcher Lexis Shawley (Gannon), third baseman Haylie Brunson (Pitt), outfielder Lexi Puskar (military) and pitcher Mary Smithnosky (Western Michigan).

The Vikings return four starters. They are senior center fielder Katie Hutter (an Akron recruit), senior first baseman/pitcher Abby Swank, junior third baseman/outfielder Krista Brunson and junior pitcher/outfielder Sophia Smithnosky.

“The younger kids are ready to make their move and learning from the returning starters,” coach Brunson said. “You just don’t replace the six that graduated. I’ll be leaning on the four returners to be leaders.”

Brunson said Sophia Smithnosky is a free spirit who doesn’t let things bother her. Swank is a solid hitter and can also pitch.

“Hutter is a leader and will carry the torch for us” Brunson said. “She’ll either bat first or second the lineup.”

He also expects his daughter Krista to show her capabilities.

Others expected to start include sophomore Madyson Hart at shortstop, sophomore Emma Scanlon, sophomore Addison Reese at catcher, senior Lyndsey Breth at second base, senior Kaylee Hutchinson at a corner infield spot and freshman GiGi Stanek as a pitcher.

Mt. Pleasant had a scrimmage against Frazier on March 17, and Brunson saw numerous things that need addressed.

“For as much time as we’ve been able to get on the field this spring, I expected us to play a lot better,” Brunson said. “It showed them what we need to work on.

“We have a nice young group of freshmen and sophomores who are pushing for jobs. There are spots open. We have to continue to work hard and get better.”

Mt. Pleasant has a second scrimmage Monday against Belle Vernon.

Brunson expects the section to be tough. Waynesburg, the only team in the section to defeat the Vikings last season, and South Allegheny return a strong group and Southmoreland “is well-coached and always gives us a battle.”

He also expects Avonworth, Deer Lakes, North Catholic and Ellwood City to be strong in Class 3A.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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