Penn-Trafford softball earns dramatic win over Latrobe

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | 8:35 PM


Down to its final strike, the Penn-Trafford softball team rallied to finally touch up — and rough up — Latrobe pitcher Jordan Tallman and keep its section winning streak intact.

Trailing by a run, the top-ranked Warriors came to life in the top of the seventh as sophomore Kylee Piconi blasted a three-run homer to back the pitching of junior Mia Smith, who was nearly unhittable in a thrilling, 4-2 Section 2-5A victory Tuesday at Latrobe’s Graham-Sobota Field.

Penn-Trafford (6-3, 5-0) has won 20 straight section games.

“This one was epic,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “For some reason, it always is when we play them. You have to be ready to play a full seven innings. It has to be seven innings, go three strikes, go three outs, go all nine (hitters). That’s what it took.”

Smith struck out 12, allowed three hits, did not walk a batter and stayed poised after Latrobe (3-3, 1-1) took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh and was looking to seal the pitchers’ duel.

“We all do our jobs no matter what the game situation is,” Smith said. “My defense really helped me out. It helped clear my mind and go every pitch for every batter. Kylee’s hit eased me a little, but I knew I had to come back and finish the game and not let up.”

Smith took a no-hitter into the sixth before senior Lauren Bisignani doubled softly to left past a diving Piconi.

Senior Emily Schumaker followed with a base hit to tie it, and junior Jenna Tallman singled to left to make it 2-1.

Later in the frame, Jordan Tallman was hit on the elbow by a screwball that got away from Smith.

Still, Tallman, who struck out 11, returned for the seventh and had Penn-Trafford looking to go quietly when she walked senior Sarah Eisenhuth and gave up a single to junior Hannah Allen.

Even with the Warriors’ power hitters held in check, the bottom of the order wasn’t ready to call it a day.

“You know they are going to hit,” Latrobe coach Bob Kovalcin said. “We needed to score some more runs. Give them credit. They came back and hit the ball. We didn’t hit it solid enough in the beginning. That is a tough team to beat.”

That brought up Piconi, who changed the outcome with one sweet swing. She went opposite field for a three-run blast, her first varsity home run, to put the Warriors in front, 4-2.

“We were working outside pitches all game,” Piconi said. “We knew she can hit her spots. We have been working in it all week. I had two strikes on me, so I was just hoping to make contact, honestly. For it to hit off the bat perfectly, it just went and I was ecstatic.”

Later in the inning, Penn-Trafford senior slugger Brooke Cleland, who had two singles, hit a sharp line drive back at Jordan Tallman, who fell to the ground, writhing in pain and holding her right wrist.

This time, Tallman could not continue and left the field. She was taken to a local hospital for observations after the two dings to her throwing arm.

As she left the field, Tallman was smiling and said to a Penn-Trafford coach, “You guys are really good. Next time, how about going for my legs.”

Kovalcin hopes Tallman can continue but said he has two other pitchers ready to step in as the second half of section play gets set to start.

“She is one tough girl,” he said. “We weren’t going to pitch her Friday so we’ll give her some time to recoup.”

Penn-Trafford coaches and players expressed their concerns for Tallman and wished her the best.

“She really spins the ball well,” Little said of Tallman, who threw a no-hitter with 15 strikeouts against Connellsville on Friday. “She is a true pitcher. We hope she is OK.”

Little was pleased with how the bottom of the order produced.

“Mia did a great job staying ahead of batters,” he said. “And we played tough D. Our Big 3 didn’t do much today, but the other girls did and that is great to see. I believe in them.”

Penn-Trafford took a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Eisenhuth hit a ground-rule double to right, and Hannah Allen moved her to third on a sacrifice fly.

A wild pitch then allowed courtesy runner Maddie Penney to score.

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

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