No. 1 Mt. Pleasant hangs on, beats No. 2 Yough

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Monday, April 29, 2019 | 9:11 PM


A large ice wrap resting heavily on her right shoulder in the dugout after the game was a stark contrast to the heat lamp of pressure that radiated down on Carolyn Alincic.

Mt. Pleasant softball’s only senior took the pitching circle on senior day to face a menacing opponent with first place on the line Section 1-4A. It was her last section game at home, and it tested her mettle.

She could not leave her home field with a defeat. Not on this day.

No. 2 Yough finally got the bats around on Alincic late and pieced together a rather snappy, two-out rally in the top of the seventh. But No. 1 Mt. Pleasant, sensing Yough’s eagerness to keep swinging, managed to hold on for a 4-3 victory Monday to remain undefeated and maintain command in the standings.

The Vikings (12-0, 8-0) took a 4-0 lead into the final frame against the Cougars (9-5, 6-2), who did all they could to avoid a season sweep.

A flame-throwing right-hander, Alincic was all about the positives — glad, even? — after the perilous seventh, which did anything but overwhelm the Vikings, who clinched at least a share of their third straight section title.

Mt. Pleasant has won 22 straight section games.

“I am definitely happy it happened,” Alincic said of Yough’s 11th-hour push. “Playoffs are going to come. WPIALs are going to come, and we’re going to need to practice playing teams like that. Competition is going to keep escalating, so I think it’s a good thing it happened today.”

A Morehead State recruit, Alincic allowed four hits and struck out 10, but she walked an uncharacteristic four for the Vikings, who have won 17 in a row at home.

Senior pitcher Kierra Waywood, a Cal (Pa.) recruit, also was on her game for most of the day for Yough. She provided some offense, too, just as things looked bleak in the seventh.

After Alincic issued a one-out walk to Katelyn Chilzer, Corrin Parquette ripped a double to deep center. Mt. Pleasant threw out Chilzer at home for the second out, a product of aggressive baserunning.

“That last inning … if you’re going to go down, you should go down being aggressive,” Yough coach Dutch Harvey said. “We showed some fight. This team has more no-quit in it than any I have coached.”

With Parquette at third, Hadley Sleith singled to make it 4-1. Nevaeh Chopp then walked to bring up Waywood, who lined a double to right-center and, suddenly, it was a 4-3 game.

Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson gathered his team around the pitching rubber and tried to settle any nerves.

With order restored, Alincic got Kaylyn Odelli to pop out to short to end it.

“It definitely helped a lot when Chris came out and talked to us,” Alincic said. “He’s really good at calming us down. He’s always collected. We expected them to have an inning. Every team has an inning. In that game, ours just happened to be the inning before it.”

Brunson trusted his senior leader.

“Carolyn is a bulldog. She’s a tough kid,” Brunson said. “She has that fighter mentality. I just had to go out and calm her down. She was getting a little frustrated. She calmed down. I told her to trust her stuff and be who you are, and it worked out.”

Sophomore shortstop Hannah Gnubus helped the Vikings build their advantage as she went 2 for 4 with a double, triple and two RBIs.

Her two-out, two-run triple over the head of center fielder Savannah Manns in the sixth made it 4-0.

“I was saying take the first pitch,” Gnibus said. “She was throwing them right down the middle. I wasn’t going to look at the first-pitch strike. This game boosted our confidence. We didn’t think about anything else but winning. … We wanted to get that win for Carolyn.”

Rae McNair’s softly-hit RBI single to left in the at-bat just before Gnibus’s also was penance for hasty fielding, Harvey said.

Liberty commit Haylie Brunson, who doubled earlier, reached on an error by first baseman Parquette to open the sixth. Harvey thought Manns misplayed the drive by Gnibus.

“Our mistakes cost us today,” Harvey said. “That’s usually the way it goes when you make errors. That was a ball that could have been caught. We are better defensively than that.”

Mt. Pleasant finally cracked into a scoreless game in the fifth when freshman Katie Hutter doubled to center to score Gnibus.

Yough had won four in a row, but the Cougars have lost four straight to the Vikings.

When Mt. Pleasant clipped Yough, 3-2, earlier in the season in Herminie, Alincic struck out 18 and gave up just two hits, and Hutter had the winning RBI on a triple.

“I knew it was going to come down to last out with them,” Chris Brunson said. “It came down to last out last time. Dutch has those kids ready to go. There is a lot of traditional winning over there. They know how to win. We were hanging on at the end. We made a couple more plays.”

Mt. Pleasant continues to play well without sophomore first baseman Courtney Poulich, who has a torn hamstring and is expected to miss the season. is a Lousiana-Lafayette recruit.

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

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