Emma Little slugs Penn-Trafford past Norwin

Monday, April 5, 2021 | 9:38 PM

Emma Little did not spend Easter Sunday afternoon eating candy. She was too busy working on her softball swing.

“I made a complete change,” the Penn-Trafford senior catcher said. “Me and my dad came to the field, and I changed my whole swing, stance-wise. It was something I needed to do.”

The change made quite a difference for Little, who delivered three hits and drove in four runs to lead the hard-hitting Warriors to a 10-5 win over visiting Norwin on Monday.

It was the Class 5A No. 1 Warriors’ first win on their renovated field, which now has a turf infield and new backstop. Penn-Trafford lost to 3A No. 1 Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, 6-5.

“That loss was good for us,” said Little, a Bloomsburg commit who hit a solo homer, singled twice and dropped a sacrifice bunt to score another run for the Warriors (1-1). “It made us feel like, ‘OK, we’re not perfect.’ It put a fire under us.”

The loss was the first of the season for 6A Norwin (3-1), which got home runs from sophomore left fielder Madie Kessler and junior third baseman Mallory Wensel, the latter cracking a three-run shot with two down in the seventh to cut into a 10-2 deficit.

“I thought our girls performed well and did their jobs,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “When they all do the little things, it adds up. That loss (Saturday) was a punch in the face.”

Seven Warriors had at least one hit against Norwin’s talented one-two pitching combo of senior Sydney Lokay and junior Angelina Pepe.

But the Knights could not match the 2019 state champions’ offensive output.

“We played Mt. Pleasant and Penn-Trafford; I don’t think we’ll see two better hitting teams all year,” Norwin coach Brian Mesich said. “We needed to be better prepared mentally today. We are not hitting our spots. We have to make adjustment and hit our spots.”

Junior Mia Smith earned her first complete game win in the circle for the Warriors, who had 12 hits. She allowed seven hits, struck out 10, walked three and hit a batter.

“It was her game,” Denny Little said. “My wife Amy told me (Smith) isn’t a freshman anymore, and I don’t have to help her along. I thought she needed the chance to (pitch all seven innings).”

Smith, who can hit the low to mid 60s on the radar gun, was used in a late-innings role two seasons ago. Now, she looks like the staff ace.

“I have been catching Mia for nine years,” Emma Little said. “I know what she can do. I know when she is on her game. I call her pitches.”

Senior third baseman Allie Prady, a Fairmont State commit, and junior designated player Hannah Allen each had two hits and two RBIs for the Warriors, who took a 5-2 lead with a four-run fourth inning.

In the fourth, Little, Prady, Allen and senior first baseman Sarah Eisenhuth all singled in runs. Speedy sophomore Bri Pisateri led off the inning with a bunt single.

“We have a few girls that are speed demons,” Denny Little said. “She is one of them.”

Pepe took the circle in the fifth and Penn-Trafford scored two more times on singles by Little and Allen. With Norwin’s offense drying up, the Warriors crossed the plate three times in the sixth to reach double figures. Another bunt single by Pusateri put two on and set up senior center fielder Brooke Cleland’s sacrifice fly.

A squeeze bunt from Little brought in a run and that was was followed by an error for the 10th run.

Pusateri also threw out a runner at the plate from right field in the fourth after Norwin took a 2-1 lead.

Little and Kessler exchanged solo homers for an early 1-1 tie. Kessler finished 2 for 4.

“Hopefully, we can use this to build off of and learn from,” Mesich said. “We want to be ready for section play Thursday.”

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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