Elizabeth Forward ace Kailey Larcinese attacks Yough lineup, throws no-hitter

Monday, April 26, 2021 | 8:35 PM

The fin was up in the water early.

With her rise ball forcing Yough hitters to flail and swat at air for the first three innings, Elizabeth Forward softball pitcher Kailey Larcinese had the Cougars right where she wanted them.

“It was blood in the water,” Yough coach Dutch Harvey said. “Like a shark. It was shark week.”

Larcinese feasted on Yough’s lineup, striking out 12 and walking one on the way to a no-hitter Monday as the No. 1 Warriors blanked the fifth-ranked Cougars, 2-0, in a Section 2-4A game in Herminie.

“I came into this game with a good mindset knowing that this is one of the best teams we’re going to play in the section,” said Larcinese, a Towson commit who threw 82 pitches. “I think when I came out in the first two innings and struck out the first six, I definitely had a big confidence boost and knew today was going to be a good day.”

It was the 10th shutout of the season and fourth in a row for Elizabeth Forward (11-2, 8-0), which swept Yough (7-3, 4-3) in the season series. Larcinese allowed three hits in a 1-0 win over the Cougars earlier in the season. She struck out 11 that day.

This time, Yough fell behind early in counts, swinging at high rise balls. Eight of nine Cougars hitters struck out the first time through the order.

Yough starts six freshmen when it uses a designated player.

“My rise ball is my best pitch, and obviously, it’s kind of hard to lay off of that,” Larcinese said. “If they were to lay off of it, they all probably would have been balls, to be truthful. That pitch has been very good for me.”

When a pitcher is on her game like Larcinese was, all it takes is one or two runs to back her effort. The Warriors scored both on errors, a fielding miscue in the first inning with two outs and two on, and a throwing error in the fifth on a steal attempt that went awry for Yough.

“We have a young team, and they’re still learning some things,” said Harvey, whose teams had never been no-hit in his seven years as coach. “I wanted us being aggressive and swinging early, but more at mid-range pitches, not ones that were high like that. We needed more choke-and-poke and less big swings. Kailey saw what we were doing and kept attacking. We needed to be more disciplined and that will come.

“Kailey pitched a great game. We won’t see another one like her in 4A.”

Warriors coach Harry Rutherford said Larcinese was locked in from the start.

“Her rise ball was really moving,” he said. “It’s impressive what she was able to do against such a quality team. Yough is always one of the better hitting teams we play. Kailey wasn’t just going to serve up fastballs down the middle because they can hit them.”

Senior shortstop Anna Resnik led off with a double and junior second baseman Brooke Markland added a bunt single to set up the first run.

Resnik later doubled off the fence and finished 3 for 4 with a run scored.

Senior Mackenzie Kearns doubled to open the fifth for the Warriors, who put the leadoff hitter on base five times. On her successful steal attempt, the pickoff throw sailed past third and Kearns raced home to make it 2-0.

Yough tried small ball to manufacture offense in the fifth, but a groundout negated two successful sac bunts after a leadoff walk to senior Savannah Manns.

The Warriors, who began the season with four games in Orlando, Fla., have outscored their opponents, 91-8.

West Mifflin is the only team to score on them from the WPIAL.

Elizabeth Forward managed eight hits against Yough junior pitcher Emma Augustine.

Yough pulled off a double play in the sixth.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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