Southmoreland hangs on to beat South Allegheny, earns state playoff berth
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 | 9:02 PM
They say it is hard to beat a team three times in a season.
The way Southmoreland saw it, it was even harder to lose to one that many times.
The Scotties built an early lead and then fended off several comeback attempts by section foe South Allegheny on Tuesday before finally settling on a 9-8 victory in the WPIAL Class 3A third-place softball game under blazing sunshine at Norwin.
The win vaults the Scotties (14-4) into the PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2018. They will play the District 6 champion in the first round Monday at a time and site to be announced.
South Allegheny, which beat the Scotties twice this season by scores of 6-4 and 5-3, is finished at 13-5.
Southmoreland played without its standout sophomore shortstop, Amarah McCutcheon, who sat out with an illness.
She is expected back for the state tournament. Sophomore Gwen Bassinger played short Tuesday.
“It was about the girls’ attitude and effort,” Southmoreland coach Todd Bunner said. “We were down Amarah, and I can’t stress how big of a task that was for the girls. But they stepped up. We prepare for that kind of thing all year. The girls stayed positive the whole time.”
Southmoreland lost to Avonworth, 3-0, in the WPIAL semifinals and had to sit six days before the consolation-game matchup with the Gladiators.
After producing only three hits against Avonworth, the Scotties banged out 10 in this game.
An early error led to a 2-0 lead, and the Scotties were up 5-0 through two innings after freshman Makayla Etling delivered a two-run single and junior Brynn Charnesky singled in a run.
Charnesky was 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs.
“I wanted to play for my team,” Charnesky said. “We looked forward to playing (South Allegheny) because we have had some battles with them.”
It was 6-1 in the third after sophomore Gabriella Grabiak’s sacrifice fly, but an RBI triple by Gladiators senior Maddie Pikula and a run-scoring groundout by opposing senior pitcher Breena Komarnisky cut the lead to 6-3.
Two more runs followed for the Scotties in the fifth. Freshman Taylor Doppleheuer’s sacrifice fly was followed by a South Allegheny error, allowing the Scotties to make it 8-3.
Like they did in the last game, the Scotties used two pitchers. Senior Maddy Cyphert started and went three innings before sophomore Maddie Brown came in for 22⁄3. Cyphert reentered in the sixth and finished to earn the win.
“It was the heat,” Bunner said. “Maddie Brown had pitched against South Allegheny twice this year. She has been dealing with an injury. We wanted to give them something different to look at.”
The Gladiators cut it to 8-5 in the fifth as Komarnisky and senior Payton Limley had RBI singles.
Charnesky followed with an RBI double in the sixth for a 9-5 cushion, forcing a pitching change by the Gladiators: senior Maddie Pikula for Komarnisky.
But that cushion was leaking stuffing. South Allegheny loaded the bases in the sixth with two singles and a walk.
An error, a single by Komarnisky and another walk brought the Gladiators to within 9-8.
Cyphert overcame two walks after returning to the circle and recorded a strikeout then induced a lineout and a flyout to end it.
Freshman Riley Puckey had two hits and two RBIs for Southmoreland.
Limley was 4 for 4, sophomore Morgan Mosqueda knocked in two runs, and Pikula was 3 for 4.
South Allegheny was the Section 3 champion and won the title by two games over the Scotties.
“We earned this,” Bunner said.
“South Allegheny is a really strong team. They were ranked No. 2 at one time. We had a five-run lead a couple of times, but we knew it wasn’t safe. That is no cheap team.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: South Allegheny, Southmoreland
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