Tallman strikes out 18 as No. 2 Latrobe edges Franklin Regional in Section 1-5A

Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 8:17 PM

Franklin Regional and Latrobe are new opponents in Section 1-5A softball so it took them some time to get used to one another Thursday in Murrysville.

There were some early errors, a few runners left on base and plenty of foul balls hit into the pine trees and lower parking lot at the Franklin Regional campus.

Franklin Regional was fortunate to make any contact against Jordan Tallman as the game wore on.

The sophomore pitcher settled in after a scratchy start and struck out a career-high 18 to lead No. 2 Latrobe to a tight, 6-5 victory over the Panthers.

If there ever was a game that saw a pitcher fan 18 quietly, this was it. It almost doesn’t seem possible in a 6-5 finish.

Latrobe coach Rick Kozusko said the performance was impressive, but Tallman had help as the Wildcats moved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in section.

“I can’t say enough about that battery,” Kozusko said. “Jordan gutted it out. A couple innings she was tested; that’s a good team and you expect that. I can’t say enough about (senior catcher) Makayla Munchinski’s efforts. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does. She plays with passion. … I think it’s rubbing off on a nice, young team. They’re not afraid to swing the bats.”

Franklin Regional (4-3, 3-1) got all three of its hits in the third inning — including a two-run double by junior shortstop Mariah DeRiggi and a RBI single by junior second baseman Kate Alexander — to take a 5-4 lead.

But Tallman struck out nine of the next 17 hitters to disarm the Panthers, and the Wildcats scratched out two more runs to retake the lead.

“We hit her some early but then she was just overpowering,” Franklin Regional coach Jim Armstrong said of Tallman. “We are so much better than that defensively. I don’t think any of the six runs were earned. We have to play better defense.”

Relying on her secondary-pitch curve ball for most of the day, Tallman worked ahead in counts and recoiled her way back when she got behind. The Wildcats’ new ace, who replaced senior Kiley Myers after Myers left the team last weekend, was in command and moved to 4-0.

“Seeing a new team and working on figuring out what pitches were working for me,” said Tallman, who threw 151 pitches. “Once I did, I could get a little more into my groove.”

In the fourth, after DeRiggi speared a line drive and nearly completed a double play, Latrobe loaded the bases. Senior pitcher Angalee Beall walked in the tying run.

After the Panthers left the bases full in the fifth — Tallman walked four and hit a batter in the complete-game win — Latrobe went ahead in the sixth.

Sophomore Jordan Novak beat out an infield single and Munchinski (2 for 4) singled to center. With runners at first and third and two down, Beall threw a wild pitch and Novak scored.

“So far this season it’s been taking us a few innings to really get going,” Tallman said. “Once you get through that first time through the lineup, all your offensive key players can really dial in.”

Tallman made quick work of the Panthers in the sixth with two strikeouts, then struck out three of four hitters in the seventh, allowing a walk to senior Mallory Halleck after a lengthy at-bat.

She struck out DeRiggi to end it.

Two Latrobe errors in the first gave the Panthers a 2-0 edge. The Wildcats carded four runs in the third, three coming on a three-run double by freshman Jenna Tallman, who has shown some early-season power.

The first run of the inning scored by way of an error. Franklin Regional had four errors and Latrobe made three.

“The field threw us a little bit,” Kozusko said. “It looks soft but it’s really hard. We try to get on our dirt field prior to a game against a team that had a dirt infield, but we couldn’t do that yesterday. After that first inning they got a feel for it and settled down.”

Munchinski and Jenna Tallman each went 2 for 4. Munchinski had a double.

“I am proud of everyone,” Tallman said. “They really stayed in the game, towards the end when it started getting really close, everyone was up and on the fence, cheering for each other.”

Franklin Regional’s five runs is the most by a Latrobe opponent this season. The Wildcats have won back-to-back one-run section games.

“These kind of games are fun,” Kozusko said. “Of course, a little more fun when you come out on top. It’s good for the girls to be in these kind of games and see what it’s all about. It’s a very good section. … I think it’s the best section around.”

Franklin Regional saw a three-game winning streak end.

“It’s going to be hard to win every game in this section,” Armstrong said. “This was a good example of what we’re going to see.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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