Southmoreland rallies past Central for program’s 1st PIAA victory
Monday, June 4, 2018 | 9:21 PM
Southmoreland worked hard enough to earn a spot in the state softball playoffs for the first time. The Scotties weren't about to let their run end after one game.
And so, despite an early hole, despite being forced to turn to their backup pitcher and seeing one of their top players go down with an injury, the Scotties ensured their state stay lasted longer than one day.
In a wild back-and-forth offensive game, WPIAL champion Southmoreland rallied from a four-run deficit to beat District 6 runner-up Central, 10-7, in a PIAA Class 3A first-round game Monday at North Allegheny.
“You've made history, why not make as much history as we can?” Southmoreland coach Todd Bunner said. “Let's not let it go; let's continue to do what we're doing and see how far we can go with this thing.”
Just a few weeks ago Southmoreland began the WPIAL playoffs as a .500 team with a four-game losing streak. Four wins later, the Scotties (11-7) have their first WPIAL title — won in a rout over section nemesis South Park — their first PIAA playoff appearance and now first state postseason victory under their belts.
The team may be playing with house money, but it also plans to run the table — starting with Thursday's PIAA quarterfinal against District 10 champion Hickory at a site and time to be determined.
“We are on a roll, and I'm so glad to do it with all these girls,” said junior Lexi Klatt, who doubled twice and earned the victory in the circle after coming on in relief in the second inning. “It's probably the best season I've ever had. We always rely on each other, always have each other's backs.”
Southmoreland needed that more than ever Monday. Starting pitcher Jess Matheny, who put off surgery after injuring her knee early in the season and pitched the Scotties to a WPIAL title, struggled with her control early. She walked two batters and hit another in the first inning, helping lead to three Central runs, and then added another walk and hit batter to begin the second.
Klatt entered the game at that point, and after both inherited runners scored, Central (14-10) held a 5-1 lead. But Klatt, not typically a pitcher, limited the Dragons to just two more runs after that point.
“What a way to come in and win a state game for us,” Bunner said. “She has a lot of heart.”
Meanwhile, Southmoreland's bats went to work, whittling down Central's lead. Charity Henderson drove in a pair with a second-inning double. Emily Eutsey made it 5-4 with an RBI single in the third. And after Central restored its two-run lead in the fifth, the Scotties finally vaulted over the Dragons in the bottom of the inning.
Klatt began the rally with a single, moved to third on an error and scored on Matheny's bunt fielder's choice. Maegan Shetterly's one-out, bases-loaded single tied the score, and Abby Fullem scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. After Henderson was intentionally walked to reload the bases, Bethany Bunner doubled in a run. The play could have resulted in more runs, but Shetterly was thrown out at the plate.
So, too, was Henderson after she and Bunner both ended up at third base, resulting in a rundown. Henderson injured her leg in a collision at the plate after attempting to score.
“They never give up, and I've said it the whole entire year,” said Todd Bunner, adding Henderson's status for Thursday is unknown. “They have confidence in their abilities, they have confidence in being able to hit and field and pitch. We just had to have those things come together in the middle, and it did. Their confidence level's always at an all-time high.”
Their bats are performing that way, too. After scoring a dozen runs in the WPIAL championship victory over South Park, Southmoreland reached double digits again, cracking 15 hits and seven doubles — two apiece by Klatt and Henderson and one each from Bethany Bunner, Fullem and Courtney Myers. Fullem and Henderson both had three hits. Fullem's two-run double made it 10-6 in the sixth.
“I was really impressed with the way they hit,” Central coach Dale Evans said. “We tried changing speeds, we tried going in and out, up and down, and they were just hitting. They were on it.”
Central cut its deficit to three with one out in the top of the seventh, but Southmoreland brought Matheny back into the game and the freshman southpaw recorded the final two outs to seal the victory.
Dylan Claycomb and Cassi Mock both doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs for Central, which finished with six two-baggers.
Klatt, usually a catcher, pitched 5 1⁄3 innings for Southmoreland to get the victory.
“We don't give up,” Klatt said. “We never give up. We keep fighting to the end.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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