Latrobe softball pulls away from Western Beaver in Class 5A playoff opener

Monday, May 15, 2023 | 10:11 PM

It took three innings before the Latrobe batters could solve Western Beaver sophomore pitcher Emma Bogacki.

But once they did, they turned a close game into a rout.

No. 6 Latrobe (15-3) ended No. 11 Western Beaver’s magical season with a 12-1 mercy-rule, six-inning game in the opening round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs Monday at Gateway.

The Wildcats will face No. 3 Trinity on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. The Hillers defeated Penn-Trafford, 3-2.

Bogacki did a good job overpowering Latrobe’s batters in the first three innings. She allowed three runs, only one earned, while striking out eight.

But things started to unravel in the fourth inning for Bogacki and Western Beaver, which ended a 31-game losing streak earlier this season.

Latrobe’s experience started shining.

“We have enough seniors on this team that they should know what they are doing,” Latrobe coach Bob Kovalcin said. “Their pitcher was pretty fast. She has a nice riseball, fastball and curveball. That’s what was working for her, that low and outside curve.

“You can practice it all you want, but until you see it at that speed, it takes a while to get used to it.”

A walk and two bunt singles loaded the bases in the fourth inning for the Wildcats.

Sydney DeGram then delivered a two-run single to stretch Latrobe’s lead to 5-1. The Wildcats tacked on another run in the fifth inning when senior Grace Henigen singled home junior Corrine Wright.

“Their pitcher was wheeling, throwing some heat,” Henigen said. “But we were able to adjust to the modified strike zone, and some of us were able to get some hits.

“It was difficult at times, but I feel our attitude and spirit on the bench helped propel us to the win.”

Henigen said she felt the lineup was more consistent than early in the season.

“The past few games the bottom of the lineup has stepped up and contributed,” Henigen said. “We set up ducks on the pond nicely for the top of the lineup.”

The Wildcats walked it off in the sixth inning on five hits, including a two-run single by senior Lauren Weatherton, an RBI double by senior Hayden Kraynick, an RBI triple by senior Piper Zufall and a two-run home run by Josie Straigis.

Western Beaver (8-8) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a leadoff home run by sophomore Isabella LeFebvre.

“We started strong with the home run for Isabella,” Western Beaver coach Hannah Maga said. “Other than the first two batters, we played well defensively. The game kind of got away from us.

“They got into our heads a little bit. I’m more than proud of these kids for getting as far as we did and coming from where we were to where we are now. Coming in second place in the section was good. We still have a long ways to go.”

Western Beaver has one senior on a roster filled with underclassmen.

Latrobe took advantage of two errors, a wild pitch and an RBI double by Kraynick to grab a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

The Wildcats made it 3-1 in the second inning on a single by Weatherton, who finished with three hits and three RBIs. DeGram, Kraynick, Wright and Henigen had two hits apiece.

Western Beaver threatened in the third inning by loading the bases with one out. But Latrobe junior pitcher Kayla Williams got a forceout at home and struck out Kaitlyn Zele to end the threat.

Williams then retired the next eight batters before allowing a leadoff double to Shaylyn Shall to open the sixth inning.

“The middle of the lineup has been struggling the last couple of days, so we’ve been juggling people back and forth,” Kovalcin said. “I hope Josie and Piper gained some confidence in their final at-bats. I told them when they were coming up to bat, I don’t care where you hit it, I want you to hit it. They did.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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