Southmoreland’s Amarah McCutcheon delivers walk-off homer, spoiling stellar effort by Ligonier Valley ace

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | 12:04 AM

Having struck out three times, like a couple of her Southmoreland softball teammates had, Amarah McCutcheon admitted she didn’t have much expectation when she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.

On this day, a foul tip was an accomplishment against Ligonier Valley ace Cheyenne Piper, who was dominating the Scotties.

“I just wanted to get a piece of the bat on something,” said McCutcheon, a junior shortstop. “None of us felt very good by that point.”

That is because Piper had mowed down the Scotties’ lineup to the tune of a career-high 20 strikeouts.

Instead of becoming No. 21, though, and instead of the allowing the international tiebreaker rule to come into play in the 10th, McCutcheon got the bat around on a chest-high delivery and sent it over the left-field fence for a walk-off, two-run homer and a rousing 2-0 win Monday in Alverton.

The matchup felt more like a pressure-packed WPIAL playoff game than a Section 3-3A opener.

Piper, who threw a perfect game last year when she was part of a one-two tandem with standout Maddie Griffin, had allowed one hit heading to the ninth.

She did not issue a walk in an unshakable performance that seemed destined to result in a win.

But the Scotties had the last word.

Junior Brooke McBeth reached on a fielding error to open the home half of the ninth.

McCutcheon was behind in the count 0-2 when she caught everyone in attendance off guard with the most exciting outlier of the day.

“(Piper) was really good today,” McCutcheon said. “Her spin and location made it really tough on us. It felt like a check-swing when I hit it.”

“Cutch’s” hit was the first ball to leave the infield for the Scotties all afternoon. A rise ball sailed a touch inside, and McCutcheon turned on it.

“I threw it off the corner a little bit, and she went and got it,” Piper said of McCutcheon’s homer. “It was just a little off of where I wanted it.”

And that was just enough for the Scotties (3-1, 1-0), who left runners stranded in the fifth and sixth innings but could not produce a run.

The Rams (1-1, 0-1), up from Class 2A this season, had just four hits against Scotties junior pitcher Maddie Brown, who — oh, by the way — produced one of her better games. She struck out nine and did not walk a batter while allowing four hits, three to senior Ruby Wallace.

Piper pitched a two-hitter.

“We started to put the bat on the ball more than we had over the first six innings,” Scotties coach Todd Bunner said. “Give Amarah credit for that at-bat and Brooke credit for getting on (base).

“Cheyenne pitched a heck of a game. Give her all the credit. I thought Maddie got stronger later in the game.”

Brown struck out the side in the top of the ninth and did not allow a runner after junior Neve Dowden singled with two outs in the seventh.

Sophomore second baseman Natalie Bizup made a diving catch in the bottom of the eighth to rob junior pinch-hitter Gianna Perbonish of a hit and force the ninth.

“We played them last year, and it was (2-1) game,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “We wanted to get a little more plate on (the home run pitch). We wanted to get her to chase. Hey, it happens.

“I told the girls, there are a lot of good softball teams in our section. Get used to games like this.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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