Makayla Etling’s hot bat powers Southmoreland past Yough

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Friday, May 3, 2024 | 8:32 PM


If teams continue to pitch inside to Makayla Etling, they are probably going to continue to pay the price.

Etling’s bat is making a different sound right now.

“I’m a little surprised to see (inside pitches),” said Etling, the Southmoreland junior catcher and leadoff hitter. “I feel like I am just carrying over what I did from the last game.”

And that is offense. An abundance of offense.

Etling’s hot streak continued Friday as she went 4 for 4 and finished a double shy of the cycle as No. 3 Southmoreland run-ruled host Yough, 12-2, in the Section 3-3A softball finale for the teams.

With the five-inning win, Southmoreland (13-2, 8-2) shares the section title with No. 2 Ligonier Valley (11-4, 8-2).

Ligonier Valley will get the better playoff seed because it swept the Scotties, who have won four in a row since, scoring 41 runs in that time.

They have outscored teams 132-19.

Yough, which also is headed to the WPIAL playoffs, moved to 7-4, 6-4 after getting swept by the Scotties.

The first loss was only 4-3. The rematch was moved twice, because of a school event and Yough dealing with injuries.

Yough was healthy this time, but Etling still made it hurt. Her last three games are something to marvel at: 10 for 13, three doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs.

On Thursday, she hit two homers and drove in four in a 12-7 win over pesky Derry.

“That’s insane,” Scotties coach Todd Bunner said. “I have known Mack since she was in seventh grade. It’s uncanny, but she can hit a pitch thrown just about anywhere. High, low, inside, outside. At the ankles, at the numbers.

“She is our best hitter.”

Said Yough coach Dutch Harvey: “If you give her a changeup, she’s going to hit it over the fence.”

Etling, a UNC Pembroke commit, is tied for the team lead in home runs with senior Amarah McCutcheon. They both have seven.

Southmoreland put its first two batters on base in every inning, then continued to drive balls to the outfield.

After run-producing singles by junior Taylor Doppleheuer, Etling and junior Riley Puckey in the first two innings, the Scotties scored four in each of the next two.

Etling sent a three-run blast over the fence in left center to make it 7-0.

Harvey switched pitchers, pulling freshman Kylee Fisher for sophomore Adoria Waldier in the third.

But the Scotties kept hitting. Senior Kaylee Doppelheuer singled in a run off of Waldier before Fisher reentered the circle in the fourth. But Etling struck again, lining a three-run triple into deep center to put the Scotties up 11-0.

The 12th run scored in the fifth on Yough’s third error of the day.

Senior Maddie Brown earned the win, but not before sophomore Kylie Odelli doubled to score Waldier.

An error allowed Odelli to score to make it 12-2.

“We weren’t hitting our spots,” Harvey said. “When you’re not hitting your spots and you’re making errors, you’re in trouble. We can’t be afraid to pitch. You can’t make mistakes against hitters like (Etling).”

Puckey and Kaylee Doppleheuer each finished 3 for 4. Taylor Doppleheuer, senior Gwen Basinger, and Brown each had three hits.

The Scotties outhit the Cougars, 16-5.

“The girls are ready to prove who we are and what we can do,” Bunner said. “We have really been hitting the ball well.”

The loss marked the first time Harvey’s team had been mercy ruled at home in his 11 years as coach.

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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