Southmoreland advances to WPIAL Class 3A softball title game

Tuesday, May 23, 2023 | 7:23 PM

For the first time in five years, the Southmoreland Scotties are headed to the WPIAL Class 3A softball championship game.

Behind pitcher Maddie Brown’s selective memory and steady fundamentals, Southmoreland (16-2) was never seriously challenged in Tuesday’s 7-0 semifinal win over Waynesburg Central at Peterswood Park.

For the first time in three playoff games, the Scotties led from start to finish in the aftermath of last week’s 15-14 quarterfinal slugfest win over Yough.

Brown scattered seven hits but faced only two baserunners in the seventh inning on successive singles with two outs.

“You can’t remember the past and let it affect you,” Brown said. “I trusted my defense and had fun.”

Brown said going to next week’s championship game at California University “is pretty spectacular.”

The Scotties scored once in the first, third and fourth innings before putting the game out of reach with four runs in the bottom off the sixth.

Amarah McCutcheon doubled with two outs in the first inning and scored on an infield hit by Riley Puckey, her first of four hits.

The Scotties were denied a second run in the inning when Kaylee Doppelheuer was ruled safe at first as Puckey crossed the plate. But Waynesburg coach Jim Armstrong appealed the play, and the home plate umpire overturned the safe call to end the inning.

Armstrong lamented Waynesburg’s lack of hitting.

“We just weren’t hitting,” Armstrong said. “Their hitters were hard outs. They’re tough, and I respect them.”

Emma Zehner had the first of her two hits for Waynesburg in the second inning, but Brown retired the next three batters to strand Zehner on third after she advanced on a sacrifice bunt and ground out.

The Scotties made it 2-0 in the third when Makayla Etling was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Puckey’s one-out single.

In the fourth, Brooke McBeth scored when the throw from the outfield rolled to the fence along the third base line.

Waynesburg’s Tina Tedrow doubled with one out in the fifth, but a pair of ground outs left her at third base.

The Scotties added four runs in the sixth on successive singles by Brown and McBeth, Taylor Doppelheuer’s double to score courtesy runner Maddie Lucia and McBeth and two-out doubles by Puckey and Gwen Basinger as Doppelheuer and Puckey scored.

Brown gave up two-out singles to Tedrow and pitcher Kendall Lemley in the seventh but induced another ground out to end the game.

“I didn’t start the playoffs the best, but I knew I had to wait on this pitcher,” Puckey said of her four-hit day. Asked about going to the championship game, she said, “It feels amazing.”

After his 19th career playoff win, coach Todd Bunner was happiest for his team.

“The girls have done all you could want of them, and I’m very happy for them,” Bunner said. “Maddie was very confident and not afraid to make a pitch because she knows her defense will make plays, and she trusts them.”

Bunner said he knows defending WPIAL champion Avonworth will offer a big challenge to Southmoreland.

“But we’ll be well prepared to play,” Bunner said.

Avonworth was victorious over Burrell, 3-0, in Tuesday’s other Class 3A seminal.

The Scotties’ 2018 championship victory over South Park took place at Seton Hill University. This will be their first appearance in the title game at California University, where they last played in a 2017 PIAA play-in game against eventual state champion South Park.

Waynesburg Central will be in the state playoffs as the third- or fourth-place team, pending their consolation game outcome against Burrell.

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