Southmoreland keeps cool, downs Keystone Oaks in Class 3A softball

Tuesday, May 18, 2021 | 7:40 PM

Southmoreland jumped out to a big early lead and held on for an 11-9 victory over Keystone Oaks in a first-round WPIAL Class 3A softball playoff game Tuesday afternoon at West Mifflin.

A quick start seemed out of the question for the Scotties when the first batter of the game homered. Golden Eagles leadoff hitter Maria Fratangelo, a senior, smacked a 3-2 pitch over the center field fence for a 1-0 Keystone Oaks lead.

The homer did not faze Southmoreland starting pitcher and team leader, senior Jess Matheny.

“I told my girls, ‘We’re fine. Relax. We’re OK,” Matheny said. “I feel like a lot of the game is dependent on the pitcher, so once your pitcher gets worked up, the players around her are like, ‘This isn’t good.’ It’s important to make sure everybody is up and not getting down with themselves.”

The good mojo Matheny gave her teammates worked as Southmoreland scored nine unanswered runs.

Scotties freshmen Amarah McCutcheon and Kaylee Dopplehauer drove in runs in the bottom of the first inning to give Southmoreland a lead it never relinquished.

A five-run second inning put the Scotties in control. A two-run triple by McCutcheon was the highlight of the inning that included RBIs for junior Tyson Martin and senior Emily Eutsey.

McCutcheon, who ended up with three hits, four runs scored and four RBIs, smacked a two-run homer in the third inning that put the Scotties up, 9-1.

“She’s an offensive machine,” Southmoreland coach Todd Bunner said of McCutcheon. “That’s her all year long. Anytime she steps into the batter’s box, I don’t worry about the count because I know all she needs is one swing. She’s a power hitter, but she can hit singles and drive in runs. She is something else.”

Southmoreland, however, could not deliver the knockout punch to KO, the 2019 Class 3A runners-up.

Golden Eagles sophomore Lauren Foti hit a solo home run in the fourth inning as Keystone Oaks chipped away at an eight-run deficit after three innings and a seven-run hole after five innings.

A strong Southmoreland defensive game started to spring several leaks in the final three innings as five errors led to five unanswered runs.

Keystone Oaks scored its final two runs in the seventh inning on a double by Foti, but she got too aggressive on the bases and tried to score on a Scotties overthrow only to be easily thrown out at the plate.

Matheny allowed five earned runs on her return to the circle following an injury, walking three and striking out six.

“She’s gone through a couple of weeks of being hurt,” Bunner said. “She hasn’t pitched, and she’s been undergoing therapy for it. She said there was no way you’re taking me off that mound (Tuesday).”

Foti, junior Gianna Woods and sophomore Leah Harmel led Keystone Oaks (10-6) with a pair of hits each.

Southmoreland (10-4) now moves on to the 3A quarterfinals Thursday to face No. 2 seed North Catholic.

“I’m a big believer in being humble,” Matheny said. “Obviously, we’re a pretty good team. There are times when we are going to struggle. I hope that we can keep it going.”

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