Dual-powered approach working for Southmoreland softball team

Sunday, June 5, 2022 | 4:15 PM

Using two pitchers wasn’t always in the cards for Southmoreland softball, especially come playoff time.

But when sophomore Maddie Brown began to experience tightness in her back, coach Todd Bunner turned to senior Maddy Cyphert.

Both girls saw time in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinal loss to Avonworth (3-0), then again Tuesday when the Scotties held off South Allegheny, 9-8, in the WPIAL third-place game to lock down a spot in the PIAA playoffs.

The plan could remain the same — or change to a more one-dimensional approach — when the Scotties (14-4) open the state bracket at 4 p.m. Monday against District 6 champion Bald Eagle Area (10-5) at Milesburg Little League Complex in Bellefonte.

“We knew (Cyphert) could come in if we needed her to,” said Brown, who did most of the pitching during the regular season. “I was a little surprised to see her go out and come back in (against South Allegheny), but it worked for us.”

Cyphert started, went four innings, and gave way to Brown before re-entering in the sixth Tuesday.

Cyphert pitched against Ellwood City in the WPIAL quarterfinals when Brown could not go. She was the winner as the Scotties rolled, 14-4.

She has logged 15 1/3 innings and Brown 10 2/3 in the playoffs.

While it wasn’t by design, the tandem can give opponents something to think about as they try to adjust to varying speeds and deliveries.

“We have different pitches,” Cyphert said. “I have a curve and some other pitches, and she throws fast. We can mix it up that way.”

Like any coach, Bunner likes to have backups ready to step in or get moved around in a pinch.

For instance, sophomore shortstop Amarah McCutcheon was ill for the third-place game and was scratched from the lineup. Sophomore Gwen Basssinger played shortstop in her place.

Just the same, Cyphert was ready to take the circle, even with playoff pressure mounting and a must-win game staring her down.

“We were ready to go with (Cyphert) if (Brown) didn’t feel like she could (pitch),” Bunner said. “But she felt good, and with the heat, we thought, let’s give her three or four innings. (Brown) throws hard. With (Cyphert), she has a screwball, and some offspeed pitches.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.


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