Mt. Pleasant takes lead before rain suspends PIAA quarterfinal matchup with Avonworth

Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 8:25 PM

Mt. Pleasant was primed to add to its lead in a PIAA Class 3A softball quarterfinal Thursday afternoon when the sky darkened, lightning struck and heavy rain pelted the field at Norwin.

After a delay of about 1 hour and 40 minutes and the grass outfield unplayable, officials decided to suspend the game until noon Friday at Fox Chapel.

Mt. Pleasant leads Avonworth, 3-0, and the Vikings are batting with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“We have to be ready to go,” Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said. “Mentally, we have to start from scratch at 0-0. It’s a brand new game.”

After leaving junior Katie Hutter stranded at third after her leadoff triple in the second, Mt. Pleasant (18-3) went ahead in the third when junior Abby Swank ripped a two-run, two-out double after a series of foul tips.

“We made the best of the delay with some team bonding through a couple TikToks and laughs,” Hutter said. “Dealing with adversity has been a strength for us lately, so I don’t think we will have a problem going into tomorrow.”

The Vikings made it 3-0 in the third. Senior Haylie Brunson, who started at second base instead of third as she plays with a dislocated finger, doubled to start the inning but was tagged out at third as she tried to make it triple.

Senior Mary Smithnosky quickly re-lit the wick with a double of her own. Two batters later, Hannah Gnibus roped a triple to right past a diving Abigail Stanley to score the third run.

Mt. Pleasant’s four hits all have gone for extra bases, much like the WPIAL championship when the Vikings had 12 extra-base hits including 10 doubles in a 15-0 win over Ellwood City.

“Everything was starting to come around, and our intensity was good,” Chris Brunson said. “We’ll have to get up again.”

Avonworth (14-6) has four hits against Smithnosky, who has four straight shutouts in the playoffs. The Antelopes threatened in the second with two on and two out.

Rylee Gray and Leah Kuban singled before Stanley followed with a base hit to left. But Swank threw out Kuban at home.

“I think it was better for our team to get a day’s rest rather than playing after waiting around for a few hours,” Smithnosky said. “Because we can come in tomorrow fresh and with a clear mind.”

The winner Friday will play District 9 champion Punxsutawney in Monday’s semifinals (time, site TBD). Punxsutawney defeated Cambria Heights, 6-4, on Thursday.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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