Mt. Pleasant edges Yough in battle of softball titans
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 9:26 PM
Shades of that PIAA championship victory two years ago kept creeping into Carolyn Alincic’s mind Wednesday as the Mt. Pleasant right-hander navigated her way through another tight game.
This was playoff softball at midseason, the top two WPIAL teams in the Trib HSSN Class 4A rankings battling to the wire.
“I love games like this. It really kicks us in the butt and shows us we need to put more effort into the practices and more effort into everything we do,” said the senior hurler, who pitched a two-hitter and struck out 18 batters, including the final 10, for No. 1 Mt. Pleasant in a 3-2 victory at No. 2 Yough.
Much like in the Vikings’ 5-3 victory over Tunkhannock in the 2017 PIAA Class 4A championship, when Alincic, then a sophomore, twice loaded the bases in the late innings but pitched out of both jams, Yough was knocking on the door.
The Cougars had tied the score with a pair of runs in the third inning and had the bases loaded, looking for more, when Alincic fanned Corrin Parquette to end the rally.
“I kind of have the experience to go out there with people on base and only having a small lead,” said Alincic, who came up short of her career high of 20 strikeouts, set last Saturday against Connellsville.
Katie Hutter had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run with a fourth-inning triple to lead Mt. Pleasant (7-0, 4-0).
Yough (5-4, 3-1) managed only a pair of singles against Alincic, who walked four, including three during the Cougars’ two-run third.
“We’ve faced some tough pitchers so far, and Carolyn is the top pitcher in the area,” Yough coach Art “Dutch” Harvey said. “I’m glad we’re getting the chance to face these types of girls because it’s only helping our girls who haven’t faced that type of pitching.”
Yough right-hander Kierra Waywood struck out nine and walked none.
She rebounded from a rocky start in the first, when she allowed a double to Hannah Gnibus and an infield single to Hutter, by striking out Haylie Brunson and Mary Smithnosky and getting Autumn Shogan to ground out to second.
But Mt. Pleasant, which banged out 12 hits, scored in the second, third and fourth innings with the aid of two errors.
“Kierra hits her spots,” Harvey said. “When they hit the ball, we’ve got to field the ball. Every time we made a miscue, they got a run.”
Gnibus’ RBI single put Mt. Pleasant ahead 1-0 in the second. The Vikings took a 2-0 lead in the third when Smithnosky doubled and scored after Savannah Manns’ dropped fly ball in center.
Alincic walked Hadley Sleith in the Yough third and allowed her to advance to second on a wild pitch before Hutter’s error led to the Cougars’ first run. Manns followed with an RBI single to tie the score 2-2.
Alincic then walked Sammie McGhee and Hanna Christner to load the bases before quelling the rally by striking out Parquette.
“Carolyn is a bulldog-type kid,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said. “She works her tail off, and you see that when she gets out there in the circle. Nothing really fazes her. We make an error, or maybe we don’t get a call we like, but it just doesn’t faze her. What a hard-working kid.”
Rae McNair led off the Mt. Pleasant fourth with a single but was forced out at second on a grounder to third by Gnibus, who came around to score what proved to be the deciding run on Hutter’s triple to right.
Alincic, who changed her college decision in March to Morehead State after originally committing to Division II Dominican, made the lead stand the rest of the way.
She was dominating after allowing Waywood’s leadoff single in the fifth.
Alincic stranded her mound opponent at third after Waywood advanced on Brunson’s error by striking out the side. She did it again in the sixth and seventh, when she was forced to record four punch-outs after Kaylynn Odelli fanned for what would have been the third out but reached first on Alincic’s wild pitch.
“This particular game had a couple crazy innings,” Chris Brunson said. “Carolyn threw a lot of pitches, but she just keep coming at you.”