Penn-Trafford regroups, defeats rival Latrobe in Class 5A 3rd-place game

Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | 10:30 PM

While the pressure was far from what Penn-Trafford felt in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals, the desire to play well in the third-place game and build momentum for a state playoff run was high on the Warriors’ priority list.

“This game is not as heart-attack as that one,” coach Denny Little said. “But you want to come out and be polished and poised.”

Penn-Trafford was as it bounced back from its loss to nemesis Armstrong in the semis with a 4-1 victory over Latrobe on Tuesday at Gateway to take third in Class 5A.

Both teams will open the PIAA playoffs Monday.

Penn-Trafford (15-6) will take on the winner of a subregional of teams from District 6, 8 or 9, and fourth-place Latrobe (11-12) will play the WPIAL champion, Armstrong or Thomas Jefferson.

“We were upset with the outcome (against Armstrong in the semis), so we said let’s go out and play to the best of our abilities,” Warriors senior Mack Keenan said. “We came in with a different mindset for the state playoffs.”

Junior Cam Ponko went 2 for 3 and drove in two runs, and sophomore Ella Mains had two hits for Penn-Trafford, which split its section series with Latrobe this season and looked sound in the rubber match.

“We had a slow start, and we didn’t hit the ball,” Latrobe coach Bob Kovalcin said. “We swung at some bad pitches. We have to work on that for the next game.”

Freshman pitcher Allyson Paulone allowed just four hits and struck out six while walking two for the Warriors, who lost 8-6 on a walk-off home run to Armstrong in the semis.

Keenan ripped an RBI single to open the scoring in the first, and Mains made it 2-0 with a run-scoring groundout.

In the second, Ponko knocked in two runs with a sharp single to left for a 4-0 advantage.

“Paulone is mature beyond her years,” Little said. “She met (former Warriors ace) Mia Smith recently, and it meant a lot to her.”

Latrobe broke up the shutout in the fifth when freshman Madden Gresh knocked in a run with a two-out single.

Junior Mya McHugh led off the inning with a ground-rule double to right.

Paulone allowed a lead-off double by senior Kayla Williams in the sixth, but the Wildcats left a runner stranded at third.

A lead-off walk to senior Macie McHugh also proved harmless as the Warriors breezed after that in the seventh.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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