Penn-Trafford slugs past Central Mountain, earns 1st PIAA victory since ’90
Monday, June 3, 2019 | 7:04 PM
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn-Trafford didn’t just collect 15 hits in its PIAA Class 5A first-round softball game at Penn State’s Beard Field; the Warriors sent shockwaves through Happy Valley.
Nine of the Warriors’ hits went for extra bases as they outscored District 6 champion Central Mountain, 13-6, to pick up their first win in the state tournament since 1990, the last time they played in the annual event.
That year, Penn-Trafford defeated Carrick, 10-0, and then dropped a 1-0 decision to Harbor Creek in the quarterfinals.
Now, Penn-Trafford (20-2) gets a shot at WPIAL champion West Allegheny, which defeated Exeter, on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.
“We thought we’d be playing them in the WPIALs, but that didn’t work out,” Penn-Trafford shortstop Morgan Nedley said. “We’ve wanted to play them. We’re eager to get a shot at them.”
Penn-Trafford’s offense showed Central Mountain what was in store, beginning the game with five line drive shots.
Emma Armstrong started the hit parade with a triple. Brooke Cleland ripped a double, Nedley doubled, Emma Little singled and Allie Prady doubled for a 4-0 lead.
The Warriors had six doubles, two triples and a two-run home run from Nedley, which came in the fifth inning.
Penn-Trafford made it 5-0 in the third when Little doubled and scored on Jess Lichota’s single.
“I knew we could hit, but the way we started even shocked me,” Nedley said. “We always say the only team that can beat us is ourselves.”
Central Mountain (11-10) scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning and countered Nedley’s blast with two runs in the fifth to keep the game close at 7-5.
“The home run felt good, but all I was trying to do was my job,” Nedley said. “I was just trying to get on base and let someone else drive me in. It was unexpected, but it was nice.”
Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little changed pitchers in the bottom of the fifth inning after starter Morgan Hilty began to struggle. Mia Smith came in to close the inning and only allowed one more run the final two innings while striking out four.
“The start was big,” coach Little said. “The girls wanted it, and they’ve been swinging for weeks and were ready for it.
“Morgan was pitching great and was battling. I brought Mia in, and she shut them down. Our hitting was a big ease on my heart.”
Cleland, who had three hits and two RBIs, said it was a team effort.
“Getting hit after hit after hit was a great feeling,” Cleland said. “It was great to see the team come together like we have all season. “
Central Mountain coach Fred Caldwell said he knew Penn-Trafford could hit.
“It was deflating to give up so many runs at the beginning,” Caldwell said. “We knew they were a good hitting team. I didn’t see many stats, but they were a very good hitting team.”
Now, the Warriors will try to keep those hot bats sizzling against West Allegheny.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .