Penn-Trafford softball team makes most out of few hits in odd mercy-rule win over TJ

Friday, April 29, 2022 | 9:26 PM

Literally, Penn-Trafford walked away with a first-place softball showdown against Thomas Jefferson.

The Warriors didn’t even hit a ball out of the infield. Their bats were uncharacteristically quiet, in fact.

But they still blew out the visiting Jaguars in five innings.

Thomas Jefferson provided 10 walks — and several other free miscues — that led to seven runs in Penn-Trafford’s 10-0 victory Friday in sunny Harrison City.

In an odd mercy-ruled game, No. 5 Penn-Trafford was outhit 3-2 but kept the base paths moving with the walks, three hit batsmen, two errors and two wild pitches.

Long, patient at-bats — and some noise from the dugout — fueled the anticlimactic victory in Section 2-5A.

“Our energy helped us. The junior varsity girls were there for us the whole game,” said Warriors senior left fielder Hannah Allen, who had three RBIs. “They did their job. We put a lot into this game, and we were ready to take it.”

The Warriors (12-1, 8-1) clinched a playoff spot and moved a game ahead of the Jaguars (8-6, 7-2) with one section game left.

Thomas Jefferson edged the Warriors, 3-2, in eight innings in the teams’ earlier meeting.

Control issues hindered the Jaguars, beginning in the second inning when the Warriors scored three times without a hit.

Already up 2-0 thanks to an infield RBI single by Allen and an error, a sequence went like this: walk, groundout, hit batter, walk, walk, hit batter, walk, and the Warriors went ahead 5-0.

Allen walked with the bases jammed, sophomore Mackenzie Keenan was plunked with the bags still full and junior Caitlyn Schlegel also earned a base-on-balls.

Keenan had two RBIs.

The rough inning chased junior Kendall Pielin after 1 2/3 innings, and she was replaced in the circle by senior Brianna Kibe.

“It came down to our pitching,” Thomas Jefferson coach Heidi Karcher said. “When you walk people like that, you don’t give us an opportunity to field the ball. Same with hit batters. We have to be better, especially with the playoffs coming up.”

Thomas Jefferson looked like it had a spark in the third when senior right fielder Kamryn Kameg ripped a ball deep to right. But she was thrown out at third trying to leg out a triple: junior right fielder Emma Hauck to junior shortstop Kylee Piconi to third baseman Cameron Ponko.

“Our JV girls gave us so much excitement and energy,” Warriors coach Denny Little said. “They took over the game. Our bench girls won that game.

“TJ didn’t let up. They’re a tough, pesky team.”

It got worse, though, for Thomas Jefferson in the third. Two walks and a hit batter — with a double-steal in between — loaded the bases again.

A wild pitch pushed home the sixth run, Ponko’s bunt single plated the seventh, another wild pitch the eighth, and a groundout by Allen the ninth.

Two walks and an error to open the fourth set the table for one more run and the 10-run differential. With Hauck batting, two Warriors got caught in a rundown. Freshman speedster Rilie Moors avoided a tag, and the catcher dropped the ball to make it 10-0.

“She can really run,” Little said of Moors. “She’s our Josh Harrison.”

Penn-Trafford successfully executed two squeeze bunts.

Senior Mia Smith took the pitching win, striking out five and walking two while giving up doubles to freshman Alison Chalovich and Kameg.

“We didn’t get any big hits, but they did their job getting on base when it was their turn to bat,” Little said. “We’ll take (a win) any way we can.”

Penn-Trafford has won four straight, outscoring the opposition 45-2 in that span. The team has scored nine or more run eight times.

Still, the Warriors think they can make more noise on the field.

“Our best is yet to come,” Allen said.

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

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