Gateway softball looks forward to WPIAL playoffs

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Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5:00 PM


It was quite the interesting final week of the Section 2-5A schedule for the Gateway softball team.

The Gators, battling for one of the final WPIAL playoff spots from the section, did their part with convincing wins over Penn Hills and Oakland Catholic.

They also watched how things progressed with others in the section such as Shaler and Mars to get a read on where they stood coming down to the wire.

In the end, it turned in Gateway’s favor as it clinched a spot in the postseason for the second year in a row.

“I am pretty proud of the girls and the way they’ve played to get to the playoffs,” Gateway coach Scott Lewis said.

“We had some ups and downs this season with some good games and others where we struggled. But we hit the ball and took care of business when we needed to.”

Section co-champion Plum topped Gateway, 8-0, in its section finale Thursday, and the Gators finished section play at 7-7.

“Plum just hits the ball very well and is aggressive on the bases,” Lewis said.

At the same time the Gators took on their neighboring rival, Mars faced section co-champion Hampton.

The Planets came up short against the Talbots, 4-2, and that officially secured the playoff berth for Gateway.

Mars, 6-7 in section after the setback, was to face Oakland Catholic in its final section game.

The Gators, who topped Mars, 15-0, on April 18, got additional help from the Planets who suffered a 17-16 loss to Penn Hills on Wednesday after defeating the Indians, 17-6, on April 10.

“Penn Hills definitely improved, and they hit the ball well the last time we played them,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he was impressed with the way his team came out strong in all phases — hitting, pitching and defense — in the second meeting with Mars after the Planets dealt Gateway a 13-3 loss the first time around.

“The girls came out on fire and score eight runs in the first inning,” he said. “It was like nothing I had ever seen before. They were just feeding off each other.”

Lewis also noted the strong play against Hampton on April 25 in a 5-2 loss that wasn’t decided until the seventh inning. Gateway led 2-1 after six innings, but the Talbots scored four in the top of the seventh to rally for the victory.

“We just have to keep away from that one bad inning in games,” Lewis said. “But the girls really showed the talent they have against a really good Hampton team. We know we can play with anyone if we bring our best game.

“I go back a couple of years ago when I was an assistant and we went out to play Bethel Park in the playoffs. No one gave us a chance out there, but we won that game.”

Gateway, as the No. 11 seed in the 2015 WPIAL Quad-A playoffs, topped No. 6 Bethel Park in the first round by a 5-4 score in nine innings.

The Gators were to wrap up this year’s regular season Wednesday with a nonsection game against McKeesport. The contest between the former section rivals was to conclude past the deadline for this week’s edition.

Gateway is expected to discover its first-round playoff opponent, as well as the date, time and location of the game, Thursday afternoon as the WPIAL will release all six softball brackets.

The Gators are hoping for better results than in 2018 when, as the No. 9 seed, they suffered a 12-2 loss in five innings to No. 8 Trinity.

“Anything can happen in the playoffs, and we have the girls that can win,” Lewis said. “They are excited to see what they can do.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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