Pitchers Alincic, Smithnosky help Mt. Pleasant softball build another WPIAL contender

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Monday, April 15, 2019 | 7:35 PM


Mary Smithnosky hasn’t compiled a checklist, but she said there is a litany of reasons why the Mt. Pleasant softball team once again has positioned itself as the team to beat in WPIAL Class 4A.

“We have a lot of depth,” Smithnosky said. “We have a lot of strength and power. We have some speed. There’s two or three girls who are really fast. We check every single box. We have speed, power, slap hitters and girls who can put the ball where it needs to be.”

That’s just on offense, which is a big reason why the Vikings are 8-0, including a 5-0 mark in Section 1, and the No. 1 Class 4A team in the Trib HSSN rankings.

Add a dominating 1-2 pitching punch to the mix and it’s understandable why the Vikings believe they have the potential to add to the trophy case later this spring.

Smithnosky, a sophomore with expanded pitching duties this season, is a big part of that mix. Add senior ace Carolyn Alincic to the equation and Mt. Pleasant has shut out four opponents despite playing a challenging schedule.

“We’re really blessed with great pitching,” said first-year coach Chris Brunson, a former baseball player and assistant coach at Cal (Pa.) who was an assistant last season for WPIAL champion Southmoreland. “With Carolyn and Mary, I feel like in every game we always have a chance. The kids have done a great job so far, and, I hate to use the cliche, but they take it one game at a time. Like I tell them, ‘It’s one rung on the ladder to climb to the top.’ ”

Mt. Pleasant is used to that climb. The Vikings won a WPIAL title in 2016 and a PIAA championship the following year. Last season, behind the pitching combination of Alincic and Meadow Uncapher, who is at St. Francis (Pa.), Mt. Pleasant finished 19-2 and reached the state semifinals.

So success is nothing new. Neither is a dominant pitching staff.

Alincic, a Morehead State (Ky.) recruit, is a fiery leader with an eye-popping strikeout rate. She’s 6-0 with an 0.92 ERA and 69 strikeouts against six walks in 38 innings. The team’s lone senior, Alincic embraces a leadership role, and she’s put in extra work since committing to a Division I team.

“My goal is to give 100 percent all the time,” Alincic said. “I changed my workouts. Basically, I’ve changed everything, how I eat, how I work in the classroom. … I feel like I’m a lot stronger. Mentally, I feel better.”

How good? Well, longtime Yough coach Dutch Harvey recently said Alincic is the top pitcher in the area.

“I did read that he said that, and I was shocked,” Alincic said. “I don’t look at myself like that.”

Brunson does.

“It would be hard to disagree with Dutch. He’s been doing this for a long time,” he said. “I don’t know if there is a better (pitcher) in this area. She was missing just a little bit of physical development. She’s got that now.”

Smithnosky isn’t far behind.

Alincic relies on pitch speed, experience and working batters up in the strike zone for outs. Smithnosky offers a perfect complement. She utilizes off-speed pitches, works low in the zone and induces ground balls with near equal success.

She’s 2-0 with a microscopic 0.32 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 22 innings. She’s only walked one batter.

“I like the added responsibilities of taking matters into my own hands when I’m pitching,” Smithnosky said. “I’m out there to get ground balls, get some outs. As pitchers, we’re far different.”

But they’re equally important to Mt. Pleasant’s postseason hopes.

“In softball in general, if you look at the college games, teams are going more and more to (pitching staffs). It’s more about matchups and that stuff,” Brunson said. “In high school, you might not have the numbers to have two exceptional pitchers or even one, but we’re lucky that we’ve got a combination that allows us to change it up and give a different look to teams.”

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