Mt. Pleasant’s Haylie Brunson honored as Tribune-Review Westmoreland Softball Player of the Year

Saturday, June 26, 2021 | 11:14 PM

2021 Tribune-Review Westmoreland Softball All-Stars

Player of the year

Haylie Brunson

Mt. Pleasant, Sr., IF

Haylie Brunson has to be filed under “toughest softball players to get out in the state.”

The Mt. Pleasant senior, who hit second in a fully loaded lineup that propelled the Vikings to WPIAL and PIAA championships, produced 31 extra-base hits and struck out just five times in 24 games.

The Pitt recruit and smooth-swinging lefty led the Vikings (21-3) with a .560 average, 23 doubles and 41 RBIs.

For her efforts, she is the Tribune-Review Westmoreland Softball Player of the Year.

Mt. Pleasant senior pitcher Mary Smithnosky also received strong consideration, as did Ligonier Valley junior pitcher Maddie Griffin.

Brunson, who had six home runs, hit .455 in seven playoff games with five doubles, a homer and nine RBIs.

“To cap it off with WPIAL and PIAA was a dream come true,” Brunson said of her final high school season. “I went through a lot of twists and turns throughout my career. A lot of people are gunning for you when you play on an incredible team like Mt. Pleasant. Through the ups and downs, it fueled my fire to become a better person and player. So, in a way, I am grateful for that.”

Brunson primarily played third base this season but moved to second after she dislocated her finger in the PIAA first round.

“As the year went on, I think I became more dangerous as a hitter,” she said. “Well … until I dislocated my finger. I had two games after hurting it that I was in a lot of pain and struggled holding the bat at the plate. With a couple practice days off, it started to feel better. I knew I had to finish the year strong, especially in the state championship, because it was going to take all hands on deck, one through nine, to take home the gold.”

Brunson was a model of versatility for the Vikings, who went 59-7 with her on the team. She played second base, third base and in the outfield at the prep level and played every position except pitcher and catcher in travel ball. She could end up as a corner infielder or outfielder at Pitt.

“Haylie is a clutch hitter,” said Chris Brunson, her coach and father. “You can count on tough at-bats when you need one. Many times this year, and throughout her career, she came up with the big hit or set the table for a teammate to drive her in. She is an example for the younger kids as far as her work ethic, perseverance, preparation and dedication to making herself and teammates better.”

Mt. Pleasant doubled down on its WPIAL title by winning a state title. Doubles played a key role in the postseason run: The Vikings hit 28 doubles in the playoffs, including 10 in the WPIAL final.

Brunson’s total of 23 doubles is impressive. Her patience at the plate allowed her to turn tense at-bats into gap shots.

For her career, Brunson was 97 for 205 (.473) with 14 home runs, 36 doubles, nine triples and 94 RBIs.

She only struck out 16 times and was walked 16 times, three intentionally, including in the PIAA semifinals against Punxsutawney.

First Team

Brooke Cleland

Penn-Trafford, Sr., OF

One of the WPIAL’s top power hitters, the Seton Hill commit hit 10 home runs to lead the Warriors to go with a .435 average, 27 RBIs and 21 runs.

Hannah Gnibus

Mt. Pleasant, Sr., SS

Hit-stopping shortstop with range who is headed to Pitt-Johnstown batted .447 with 17 RBIs, 25 runs and 13 stolen bases for the WPIAL and PIAA champion Vikings.

Maddie Griffin

Ligonier Valley, Jr., P

Had an incredible debut season in the circle and WPIAL, finishing 19-3 with 316 strikeouts, while allowing just eight earned runs and throwing 11 no-hitters and four perfect games for the PIAA runner-up Rams.

Emma Hoffner

Hempfield, Sr., C

Ohio recruit and team leader put together another solid season as she batted .481 with 26 hits, eight doubles, six home runs and 20 RBIs.

Katie Hutter

Mt. Pleasant, Jr., OF

Leadoff hitter for one of best teams in the state, the Akron recruit batted .552 with a team-leading 48 hits and 35 runs and had eight doubles and eight triples.

Madie Kessler

Norwin, So., OF

Fast-rising power hitter led WPIAL semifinalist Norwin with 29 hits, 10 home runs, 24 RBIs and 20 runs while batting .509.

Sydney Lokay

Norwin, Sr., P

The leader of one of the Knights’ better teams, the Westminster commit went 10-3 with a 2.69 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 29 walks in 83.1 innings, while also batting .418 with four homers.

Amarah McCutcheon

Southmoreland, Fr., SS

Had breakthrough debut season by hitting .613 with 38 hits — 19 for extra bases — 11 home runs, 27 RBIs and 32 runs scored.

Courtney Poulich

Mt. Pleasant, Sr., 1B

A Liberty commit and one of the top power-hitting first basemen in the WPIAL, she hit .455 with 10 home runs, 25 runs and 23 RBIs for the WPIAL and PIAA champions.

Mary Smithnosky

Mt. Pleasant, Sr., P

Western Michigan commit as an outfielder, she went 16-1, including 7-0 in the playoffs, with a 2.29 ERA and 117 strikeouts and 26 walks in 113 innings in her final season as a pitcher. She had six shutouts in the playoffs and also batted .449 with four home runs and 29 RBIs.

Second Team

Bailey Bertani, Norwin, Sr., C

Izzy DePalma, Derry, So., C

Emma Henry, Greensburg CC, So., P

Kailey Johnston, Ligonier Valley, Sr., 1B

Emma Little, Penn-Trafford, Sr., C

Jess Matheny, Southmoreland, Sr., P

Madison Nguyen, Franklin Regional, So., 1B

Kaylyn Odelli, Yough, Sr., C

Allie Prady, Penn-Trafford, Sr., 3B

Jenna Tallman, Latrobe, Jr., C

Kelsi Terzolino, Hempfield, Sr., OF

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

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