Latrobe softball shuts out Yough in tune-up for Hempfield showdown
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Saturday, April 21, 2018 | 7:27 PM
Latrobe junior pitcher Kiley Myers had a feeling she was going to have a big game. Warm-ups provided all the indicators.
Glove-popping speed. A sense of control. Nice framework on the corners. And confidence, don't forget confidence.
She even predicted the final score.
“I asked her what she thought the score was going to be before the game,” junior catcher Makayla Munchinski said. “She called it: 3-0.”
Myers was on point with her pitching and her prognosticating as she struck out 14 for the Class 6A No. 2 Wildcats in a 3-0 victory over 4A No. 2 Yough on Saturday afternoon at Latrobe's Graham-Sobota Field.
The pair of Westmoreland power programs scheduled this game to enrich their nonsection schedules — and to face strong pitching.
“Kiley Myers was a tiger out there … she needs to take control in the circle, and she did that today,” Latrobe coach Rick Kozusko said. “Yough is a good-hitting team. I'm very well pleased with the way our entire team played.”
The Wildcats (6-0) have shut out five consecutive opponents and have outscored teams 61-1.
Saturday proved to be a fine tune-up for Latrobe's much-anticipated home Section 2-6A clash with No. 1 Hempfield on Monday. The rival Spartans (5-0), the three-time defending WPIAL champs and winners of back-to-back PIAA titles, have won 46 games in a row.
Hempfield beat Latrobe, 13-2, in last year's WPIAL championship. Hempfield plays Penn-Trafford on Sunday at Seton Hill.
“We know they're a good team, and we can use this game as practice for Hempfield,” Myers said. “Our scrimmage against (Yough earlier in the season) was a little bit of a setback, but coming into today, we really wanted to beat them.”
Munchinski said the warmer weather aided Myers' speed. The battery only gave up five hits and walked two. The Wildcats had some help from a Yough error to scrape out some offense.
The Wildcats defense, meantime, raised its guard and did not make an error.
“My rise ball was really effective. They got a lot of swings-and-misses on those,” said Myers, who improved to 4-0. “And then, inside, they kept swinging or looking for strikeouts.”
Senior Aimee Siecinski opened the fourth with a walk, and senior Becca Tatone singled to center. That brought up Myers, who popped up to right, but the harmless-looking fly ball dropped in front of lunging right fielder Sammie Maghee.
An errant throw home got past freshman catcher Kaylyn Odelli, and suddenly Latrobe had a 2-0 lead.
After a groundout, junior Mia Schweizer followed with a run-scoring single to make it 3-0. Schweizer also had two hits.
“We can't make those type of errors,” said Yough coach Dutch Harvey, whose team had three miscues on the day. “You can come back from errors. What hurt us today was that we looked at way too many pitches. They used the same sequences of pitches to seven batters in a row, on the inside corner. We knew it was coming. We have to be more aggressive there.”
Senior Sarah Blair had two hits, including a double, for Latrobe.
“I'm pleased with the way we played, the way we responded, the way we came back (from miscues),” Kozusko said. “Mia had two nice hits, and Kiley knocked those two runs in on that fly ball to right. That's what we talk about: let your play dictate how you handle things.”
Yough (8-2) had not been shut out since last March during a season-opening trip to Orlando, Fla., a span of 29 games.
Junior Kierra Waywood took the loss for Yough. She allowed just six hits and issued two walks. She struck out Myers and junior Ashley Noel in the fifth with the Wildcats threatening again.
She retired Latrobe in order in the sixth on three pitches.
Latrobe loaded the bases in the first but could not score after a pair of groundouts.
“You can't give good teams outs,” Harvey said. “Three booted balls: That's three outs. We didn't put pressure on anybody today. Our girls will learn from this. We'll be okay.”
Yough's best scoring chance came in the sixth, when it had runners on second and third with one out. But Myers struck out senior Karlie Clark and sophomore pinch-hitter Hannah Christner to curb the threat.
Senior Kayley Westerman and Waywood singled for the Cougars in the seventh, but Myers struck out Hannah Bach and Christner to seal the victory.
Myers also closed the fifth with back-to-back K's.
Now, she can think about Hempfield.
“We're excited and we're ready to win,” Myers said. “Hempfield is always a good team. I know they have good bats. Maddie Uschock is a pretty good pitcher. We're going to go into it wanting to win.”
Said Kozusko: “They're a similar-type team. Very well-coached. Very good team. We need to play the same as we did today … take care of the details.”