Gateway softball falls short in Class 5A opening round
By: Ray Fisher
Friday, May 17, 2019 | 8:10 PM
Gateway won four of its final five regular-season games to clinch a WPIAL softball playoff berth for the second year in a row.
The Gators, seeded No. 12, were hoping to carry that momentum into their first-round Class 5A playoff game May 16 against No. 5 Trinity. The contest was pushed back two days because of inclement weather.
But the Gators saw their bubble burst as Trinity broke open a close game with a three-run fifth and went on to win 6-2 at North Allegheny.
Gateway ended up with a 10-8 overall record. Trinity improved to 14-4.
“The girls did their best; they competed hard all year,” said Scott Lewis, Gateway’s second-year coach. “We had some close games that could have went our way but didn’t.
“Gateway doesn’t have a lot of players that play on club teams, so we need to play as a team.”
The Gators’ starting lineup against Trinity was a blend of older and younger players, consisting of Maura Ryan (P), Gionna DeLuca (2B), Emma Kennedy (C), Sydney Hunter (CF), Deanna Gratton (DP), Kayla Gratton (SS), Jordan Henderson (3B), Mykaila Jackson (1B), Nikkita Vojnik (LF), with Katie Ryan in right field.
DeLuca, Henderson and Jackson were senior captains this season, while Maura Ryan, Kayla Gratton and Hunter represented the junior class.
Kennedy was the lone sophomore on the squad. Deanna Gratton, Vojnik and Katie Ryan were first-year players as freshmen.
DeLuca, Henderson, Jackson, Maura Ryan, Kayla Gratton, Hunter and Kennedy all were multi-year starters.
Kennedy led the Gators in hitting in the regular season with a .490 batting average and .765 slugging percentage. She also scored a team-high 24 runs, accounted for 17 RBIs and belted nine doubles.
Hunter (.413/.696), Kayla Gratton (.408/.633) and Deanna Gratton (.404/.532) also were .400 hitters. Hunter led in RBIs with 18; Kayla Gratton racked up a team-high 20 singles.
Maura Ryan (.365), Henderson (.325) and Vojnik (.306) also were steady contributors offensively. DeLuca scored 16 runs.
One of the Gators’ team strengths this year was their overall speed. Kennedy stole 17 bases in 20 attempts, Maura Ryan was 13 for 15, and Hunter was successful on 11 of 13. Vojnik, Kayla Gratton and Henderson swiped seven bases apiece; Vojnik was 7 for 7.
The team batting and slugging averages stood at .343 and .489, respectively. The on-base percentage was .437.
Gateway outscored the opposition 137-88 in the regular season, and averaged eight runs per game.
Maura Ryan, Jackson and Kayla Gratton pitched “by committee” this season, and the Gators won three shutout decisions.
Gateway tied for fourth with Mars with a 7-7 record in Section 2, finishing behind co-champs Hampton and Plum and third-place Shaler.
Trinity took first place in Section 3 with a 10-2 record, strung together an eight-game winning streak, and were winners of 12 of 13 during one stretch.
The Hillers were ranked second behind Penn-Trafford in Class 5A in the Trib HSSN final regular-season softball rankings.
“Trinity is well-coached,” Lewis said. “They are a good hitting team and are solid one to nine. Trinity also is solid on defense.”
Gateway was led against the Hillers by Kennedy and Vojnik with two hits apiece. Kennedy, who was intentionally walked twice, and DeLuca had one RBI apiece.
Maura Ryan suffered the loss in a complete-game performance.
But with seven starters returning next year, the Gators will be looking to make a stronger push in the section and a longer run in the playoffs in 2020.