Monessen avenges loss to Leechburg to improve playoff position

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | 8:38 PM

Monessen put together a strong performance and took advantage of mistakes to pick up an important 9-4 win over Leechburg in Section 3-A softball play Wednesday.

Kendra Jones, Joey Hurst, Jaz’mein Parker and Bry’Aunna Cook drove in runs for the Greyhounds (5-5, 5-4). Parker had two of Monessen’s eight hits.

Sidney Campbell picked up the complete-game win, allowing seven hits and four runs. She struck out three.

“I think we did much better today,” Monessen coach Brandon Yorty said. “We kind of let Leechburg off the hook Saturday (in a 9-6 loss). We gave up a late lead, so it felt good to finish off a win today.

“Sidney was amazing today, especially with an hour or two of notice that she was pitching. I don’t know if Sidney enjoys pitching, but she gives her all for us. She’s a great kid. Offensively, I think we left a few runs out there, but we did enough for the win.”

For Leechburg (4-5, 3-4) coach Larry Troutman couldn’t help but feel frustrated at some of the lapses that his team had in the loss.

“We’re beating ourselves,” he said. “We’ve practiced these things numerous times, but we’re beating ourselves, and we have to stop that. It’s tough because it’s the same things. When we lose, we make the same mistakes. We just have to forget this one and look forward to the next game. Monessen is a good team, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t beat yourself.”

Emily Talarico went 3 for 3 with two RBIs as Madison Weitzel, Laney Aul, Grace Richards and Danica Sopcak also had hits for the Blue Devils. Adalyn Zanotto allowed eight hits and nine runs over six frames. She fanned seven and walked five.

“Emily is one of the best players that nobody has heard of,” Troutman said. “Emily is real big into volleyball. She came out last year and couldn’t really swing a bat or throw a ball. This year, she’s starting for us and she’s hitting the crap out of the ball.”

Troutman also said Talarico will be unavailable for the next week and a half, so the Blue Devils will have to pick up the slack offensively in her absence.

Monessen found a way to open the scoring in the bottom of the first.

With one out, Campbell singled and advanced to second on a wayward throw to first base. When Campbell took off for third, Danica Sopcak’s throw from behind the dish was offline and allowed Campbell to round third and cross home plate to make it 1-0.

The Blue Devils came right back with consecutive doubles from Talarico and Weitzel. With runners on second and third, Gardina laid down a sacrifice bunt that scored Talarico and tied the game at 1-1.

The Greyhounds were quickly able to regain the lead with three runs in the second. Parker drew a walk and advanced to third on an erroneous throw before Ayvionna Minnie was hit by a pitch.

When Minnie looked to steal second, Parker was able to steal home to make the score 2-1 in favor of Monessen.

Cook then doubled to bring Minnie home and plate another run for the Greyhounds. Cook scored before the inning ended to make it 4-1 on a Jones single.

The Blue Devils pulled two runs back in the top of the fourth.

Richards led off with a double before Sopcak walked. Talarico doubled to bring Richards in before Sopcak stole home and suddenly made it 4-3.

Weitzel laced a line drive right at Hurst, who was able to make the grab and tag Talarico out at third to complete a much-needed double play. Monessen managed to keep its 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth when it responded with three runs.

Monessen used a dropped third strike and a walk along with a single to load the bases with one out. The Greyhounds plated three straight runs on wild pitches to push their advantage to 7-3 before the end of the fourth.

After a scoreless fifth inning, the Blue Devils cut their deficit to 7-4 in the top of the sixth with a run, but the Greyhounds again answered with two more to cap off the scoring.

Talarico doubled to score Sopcak for Leechburg. Hurst singled to score Jones and Parker had an RBI single to bring Hurst home for Monessen.

The result leaves Monessen in third place in the section with Leechburg in fourth.

Both squads will be looking to close their seasons out strong to make a playoff push.

“The hope is that we can stay in third place when the regular season ends,” Yorty said.

Leechburg takes on Jeannette, Bishop Canevin, Springdale and Frazier before it’s all said and done. The Blue Devils also had a game at Bishop Canevin postponed.

“We’ll take it one game at a time,” Troutman said. “We have Jeannette on Friday. They have a really good pitcher. We hung around with them earlier in the season, but we beat ourselves in that game, so we’ll hope to change that result.”

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