Explosive offense helps to carry Southmoreland softball team

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 | 8:47 PM

Each time Southmoreland smacks an ear-ringing home run over the fence — and it happens often these days — the Scotties exchange fist-bumps and high-fives in a mob at home plate, then it’s on to the next hitter.

“New at-bat, new batter, new everything,” said freshman shortstop Amarah McCutcheon.

New lineup, too.

The Scotties, ranked No. 2 in WPIAL Class 3A, not only boast one of the top power-hitting batting orders in the WPIAL, but also one of the youngest — maybe the youngest.

Coach Todd Bunner starts six freshmen and carries 10 ninth-graders on the roster.

McCutcheon has carried the biggest stick, hitting a lofty .622 (23 for 37) with seven homers, 18 RBIs and 20 runs.

“She has hit some bombs,” Bunner said. “Like, 250-foot bombs. I swear she hit a foul ball 300 feet against South Allegheny.”

These chicks dig the long ball.

Southmoreland (8-1, 3-1 Section 3) have 17 home runs and have hit multiple homers in four of its nine games, including a school-record five against Waynesburg.

“Seventeen in nine games is a lot,” Bunner said. “I know our team a couple years ago hit 25, but that was in a lot more games. We have some outstanding freshmen, sophomores and juniors. We think we’re going to be good for a long time.”

Senior Jess Matheny, the winning pitcher in the Scotties’ WPIAL championship win a few years ago — when she was a freshman — said this team has meshed, despite its mishmash of classes on the roster.

The Scotties, whose first loss came in a slugfest against South Allegheny, 13-12, were averaging 9.4 runs per game as they tried to dodge rain drops and soggy field conditions this week to get in games.

A recent covid shutdown has them facing a crunch to get five section games in the books before the fast-approaching WPIAL deadline of Friday. The league likely will push that date back.

“We have tried to help (the freshmen) and give them advice,” said Matheny, who is headed to Robert Morris as a position player. “We want to make us stronger as a group. We thought we could be pretty good, but it’s kind of been a shock, a good shock.”

Matheny is hitting .485 with 16 hits, two homers and 18 runs. She is 4-1 as the No. 1 pitcher.

Freshman Maddie Brown is 4-0 in the circle.

Sophomore Bryn Charnesky has four home runs and 10 RBIs to go with a .438 average. Senior Emily Eutsey is hitting .390 with 20 RBIs, and freshman Kaylee Dopplehauer has a .387 average with two homers and 11 runs.

Eutsey, a Juniata commit, also started on the ‘18 championship team.

Southmoreland made the quarterfinals in ‘19, and five starters returned this year.

“Cutch” said she had a slumping travel season with Ohio Outlaws-McCutcheon but has broken out since taking her place at Southmoreland.

“Travel ball is a lot of stress,” McCutcheon said. “High school is more relaxed. It was tough to adjust to (high school) pitching, but my teammates have really helped me. It is kind of surprising what we’re doing, but we knew we could be good.

“We put in the work, staying after and hitting. Coach Todd gets us to use our hips. We’re always practicing to get better.”

Matheny is one of three seniors on the team.

“Jess and Emily are the glue that holds it all together,” Bunner said.

Matheny said jumping on teams quickly is the genesis of the team’s success. Of course, with the homer potential, a comeback isn’t far-fetched.

“We want to come out in the first inning and let the other teams know we can hit from the start,” Matheny said. “We need to get it going early. We have a really tough lineup, and you can’t pitch around us.”

While Bunner is impressed with what the Scotties have done, don’t color him surprised.

“I knew what we had coming up,” Bunner said. “I think 16 of our 17 girls play travel ball, and that gets their minds straight for the pressure. For the first time, we have four pitchers and four catchers that we warm up every game. That doesn’t happen at Southmoreland.”

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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