Sewickley Academy softball edges Monessen in Class A opening round

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | 9:12 PM


A come-from-behind effort was not enough as Monessen softball ended its season with a 5-4 loss to Sewickley Academy in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs Tuesday at Peters Township.

After starting the season 1-8, the Greyhounds raced to the finish, winning five of their last six games entering the postseason.

In similar fashion to its regular season, Monessen started Tuesday’s game scoreless through the first four innings, trailing 3-0 before pushing a pair of runs across the plate in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 4-3 lead. Sewickley Academy was able to deal the final blow with a two-run bottom of the sixth and closed out its victory in the top of the seventh.

“We’re a pretty-good hitting team. We have some good bats,” Sewickley Academy coach Heather Border said. “But today, we had some first-round nerves a little bit. We manufactured some runs with some base stealing and stealing some runs at home. The bats were quiet today, but we have a veteran team and when it came time for them to make the big plays … we came out of it.”

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Maddie Goebel hit a leadoff double before a sky-high pop from Kendall Lightcap dropped into shallow right field, resulting in Goebel crossing the plate and Lightcap standing in at second.

Monessen starter Hannah Yorty pitched her way out of the inning, striking out two of the next three batters she faced.

Yorty continued to deal in the second, mixing a pair of walks between three strikeouts.

Sewickley plated two runners in the third. Lightcap and .600-hitter Theresa Wilson reached on an infield single and a fielder’s choice, and made it home on a pair of passed balls to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead through three complete innings.

Yorty pitched a 1-2-3 fourth frame, setting herself up for the Greyhounds’ comeback effort.

Gabby Simpson smacked a double to lead off the fifth inning and advanced to third on a passed ball before Yorty drove her home with a one-out RBI single. Mattie Telegraphis sent Yorty home with a single, bringing Monessen within a run.

Sewickley pitcher Alexis Barlock reached in the bottom of the fifth on an infield single, but Yorty racked up her ninth strikeout of the game to end the Panthers’ threat.

Trailing 3-2 in the top of the sixth, the Greyhounds loaded the bases on a passed ball and a pair of walks. Simpson drove in Sasha Kenney, and an error allowed Qitarah Hardison to reach and another run to score, giving Monessen a 4-3 lead.

Yorty was on her way to helping the Greyhounds increase that lead with a single to center field, but Sewickley’s Wilson threw to Lightcap at third, tagging the runner for the third out to end the inning.

Monessen’s lead was short-lived. With two runners on, Yorty again nearly pitched her team out of a jam, recording back to back strikeouts at the bottom of the Panthers’ order. The one-two punch of Goebel and Lightcap did the damage once again, sending two runs across the plate with a pair of singles, assisted by a Monessen error.

Sewickley defended its 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh as Barlock struck out Kinsey Wilson, got Telegraphis to pop out, then walked Kendelle Weston, before Kenney grounded out to end the game.

“We’ve been giving ourselves a chance every game, these last few ones,” Monessen coach Carlee Wickstrom said. “We had a few mental errors here, throwing the ball around, that led to their two runs.”

Yorty finished the game with 11 strikeouts, giving her 107 on the season. It was her first year in the starting role, taking over on the mound for Monessen after departed all-WPIAL hurler Dana Vatakis moved on to a starting job for Division I Robert Morris.

“She threw well all season,” Wickstrom said. “Throwing hard, mixing in her off-speed pitch and hitting the corners. Her bat is unbelievable, hitting the ball hard every at-bat she was up there.”

Losing a large senior class from the WPIAL title game run of 2018, the 2019 edition of the Greyhounds marked the beginning of a new era under Wickstrom. The squad graduates three senior starters but returns Yorty and can begin to rebuild the powerhouse club that is familiar to Monessen.

“It’s definitely something to build on,” Wickstrom said. “We’re going to have a lot of returners, since we have a lot of new girls on the field. Taking this experience – making it to playoffs, my first year, and for a lot of girls, their first year — we can use this going forward and it will really help us out.”

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