Mt. Pleasant rallies past James Buchanan, advances to PIAA semifinals

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Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 9:48 PM


CRESSON — Mt. Pleasant’s softball team dug an early hole in Thursday’s PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal.

But the Vikings’ ending was a lot better, as they rallied to defeat James Buchanan, 4-2, in eight innings at Mt. Aloysius.

“I was extremely proud of them,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said. “We got down two early and kept fighting.”

Mt. Pleasant (19-1) used a Sydni Overly ground out to tie the score at 2 in the sixth inning and got an RBI single from Sydney Kanuch and sacrifice fly from Haylie Brunson in the two-run eighth to advance to Monday’s semifinals against either Elizabeth Forward or Grove City.

That game was postponed Thursday and will be played Friday at Slippery Rock.

James Buchanan (16-8), the District 3 runner-up, used small ball and a pair of doubles to score single runs in the first two innings against Mt. Pleasant senior pitcher Carolyn Alincic.

But Alincic settled down and held James Buchanan scoreless over the final six innings. She gave up six hits, but only two after the first two innings. She struck out nine and walked two.

“When we lost in the WPIAL finals, Elizabeth Forward punched us in the mouth and we didn’t punch back,” coach Brunson said. “It was a total team effort. Everyone who played contributed.”

James Buchanan pitcher Jenna Mongold entered the game with a 0.58 ERA. It took the Vikings three innings to score a run, which came on a double by Overly. The Vikings had a runner thrown out at the plate on a great throw from center fielder Alyssa Blair.

“Once the first run scored, we were all so excited because we were back in the game and wanted to produce more,” junior Autumn Shogan said.

Mt. Pleasant tied the score in the sixth when Hannah Gnibus and Shogan started the inning with hits. Gnibus later scored on Overly’s ground out.

In the top of the eighth, Shogan got things started with a double off the center-field fence. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Kanuch’s single to center.

“I was seeing her well the first three times at-bat,” Shogan said. “She gave me the perfect pitch to drive. I wanted to get us started.”

Shogan and Katie Hutter each had four hits. Kanuch later scored to make it 4-2.

“The bottom of the order has been working really hard, and today was their day,” coach Brunson said. “We were able to get the big hits, and they didn’t. It finally it happened for them.”

Alincic struck out Maria Burkett and Blair to end the game. Alincic said James Buchanan gave her and her teammates a wakeup call.

“We needed to talk and relax,” Alincic said. “Our heads were way up here (holding her hand above her head), and we needed to bring it down here. We were looking ahead to who we were playing the next game, and it set us back a bit. We got level-headed at the end, and that’s what matters.”

Brunson said his team overcame a couple tough breaks early. He also said he didn’t see any panic on their faces.

“I was just waiting for them to respond,” coach Brunson said. “That’s what I’ve been waiting for from my team. Most of the games we’ve been ahead, you don’t know how to win when you’re behind. They figured it out.”

Now the Vikings are a step closer to a return trip to Penn State and the PIAA championship game. Brunson doesn’t want his players to worry about who they will face, but a familiar opponent could be on deck.

Elizabeth Forward defeated Mt. Pleasant, 3-0, in the WPIAL championship game.

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

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