Plum softball, baseball teams turn attention to WPIAL playoffs

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Saturday, May 15, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Plum softball team hadn’t played a game in nearly two weeks when it came back May 10 from a covid pause to face Section 1-5A foe Armstrong in a game crucial to each team’s goal of a section title.

The Mustangs didn’t show any rust as they got some timely early hitting and the consistent pitching of senior Melanie Meinke for a 5-0 victory.

That started a chain of events that put Plum in the driver’s seat for their second section crown in as many seasons.

The Mustangs then outlasted section rival Kiski Area to score a 7-6 win in nine innings on May 11 before shutting out Penn Hills, 10-0, on May 12.

Plum wrapped up the regular season with a doubleheader sweep of Woodland Hills on May 13, winning 7-3 and 7-2. That gave the Mustangs sole possession of the section title, finishing a game ahead of Armstrong

Plum baseball had lost close Section 2-5A games to Hampton, 3-1, and Fox Chapel, 5-2, before defeating the Foxes, 4-2, on May 10 to wrap up the section title outright with a 10-2 record.

It is the Mustangs’ first section title since 2016 and their 19th in program history.

The last time both the Plum baseball and softball teams won section titles in the same season was 2002.

That year, the baseball team went 8-2 in Section 4-AAA and made the quarterfinals of the WPIAL playoffs before finishing 13-7 overall.

The Mustangs softball team finished in a three-way tie in Section 4-AAA with Oakland Catholic and Woodland Hills at 7-3. Plum then suffered a 2-0 first-round loss in 10 innings against Baldwin.

The 2021 squads were to find out their playoff fates last Thursday and Friday with respective bracket reveals.

In Plum softball’s win over Armstrong that completed a season sweep of the River Hawks, sophomore Makenzie Lang drilled a first-inning three-run homer, her sixth of the season, which provided all the runs the Mustangs would need.

Against Kiski, Lang singled home Maura Marston with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give Plum the walk-off senior-night win.

Meinke struck out 18 against Kiski, and with five more against Penn Hills, she had 134 strikeouts in 9013 innings over 14 games heading into the Woodland Hills doubleheader.

Plum baseball, which entered the WPIAL playoffs 11-6 overall, started 9-0 in Section 2 before the losses to Hampton and Fox Chapel.

But the Mustangs avenged the loss to the Foxes to bring home the title.

Caden Norcutt delivered a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning that broke a 2-2 tie.

Christian Brown struck out Fox Chapel’s Jacob Patterson on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to record the final out and earn a save of Justin Giarusso, who pitched six innings and allowed only one earned run.

Plum finished the regular season 4-2 in games decided by two runs or less.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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