Shaler uses long ball to turn tables on Trinity, move on to PIAA semifinals

Thursday, June 8, 2023 | 9:33 PM

What a difference two weeks makes.

When Trinity faced Shaler 15 days ago in the WPIAL 5A semifinals, the Hillers jumped on top and watched the Titans battle back to tie before winning the game in eight innings.

On Thursday in the PIAA quarterfinals, it was Shaler that jumped on top early with the long ball, and shutdown pitching never allowed Trinity to think comeback as the Titans eliminated the WPIAL champion Hillers, 5-1.

So what was the big difference between the two games?

“We made some adjustments and the kids responded,” Shaler coach Tom Sorce said. “We didn’t make any errors. We started off that game making a couple of errors. They played well and made all the plays they needed to make. (Thursday) was just a different story.”

Trying to avenge their only loss of the season, the story started out great for Shaler.

In the bottom of the first inning, Eloise Facher lined a single to center and Ella Nash walked. After a groundout to the pitcher moved both baserunners up, the Hillers decided to pitch to senior Bethany Rodman with first base open. She made them pay with a long home run.

“She’s been in kind of a slump, and she’s been working hard to try to get through it,” Sorce said of Rodman. “To go up 3-0 with the pitching we have was a big, big plus.”

The senior had no idea it was gone when she hit it, but she knew it was good for the team.

“It was huge,” Rodman said. “It was nice to get my team up in the first inning and give us some room to play and have fun.”

Trinity coach Shawn Gray did not fret after the home run, feeling his team had plenty of time to get back in the game.

“The home run was not a concern,” he said. “I was contemplating what we were going to do with that batter. But I wasn’t too concerned. When it happens in the first inning, that’s the best place to do it, and we can obviously come back and get some hits. Obviously, that didn’t play out the way we wanted it to.”

Concern must have surfaced when the Titans kept leaving the park.

In the second inning, senior Maja Sumonovic hit a line-drive home run. In the third, Nash, a sophomore, smashed the third round tripper of the game off Trinity start Taylor Dunn, giving Shaler a commanding lead at 5-0.

The lead felt even more commanding the way Shaler freshman pitcher Bria Bosiljevac was throwing. Trinity only had two baserunners in the first six innings.

“We had to be prepared to hit what she threw,” Gray said of Bosiljevac. “She didn’t change anything different then what we saw last game. She just had a better day then we did.”

Bosiljevac yielded only two hits with no walks, one hit batter and 10 strikeouts.

“It makes it very easy for her,” Sorce said of pitching with the early lead. “We can try some different pitches. We can challenge more because they have some good hitters over there. So we challenged once we got the lead and then it was up to her.”

Trinity, which ends its season with a record of 20-3, got its lone run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning on a solo home run by senior Ryleigh Hoy.

Shaler improves to 21-1 and will face WPIAL runner-up Armstrong (21-2) in the PIAA semifinals at a site to be determined on Monday.

“We’re really excited we get to play again,” Rodman said.

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