Top-ranked, unbeaten Penn-Trafford starts slow, beats Franklin Regional

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Thursday, May 2, 2019 | 9:15 PM


Surprised and, at times, bewildered, Penn-Trafford softball players needed time to get used to a pitcher they had never seen.

The feeling was somewhat mutual for the pitcher. She had never pitched in a varsity game.

The unbeaten and top-ranked Warriors were expecting to face regular Franklin Regional starter Angalee Beall on Thursday but were dealt a curveball when Olivia Yurinko took the circle instead and began to get outs against their potent lineup.

So this story must end with big-swinging Penn-Trafford settling in and teeing off, right?

Hardly.

After a couple of times through the order, Penn-Trafford adjusted, but it had to wring out runs and work a little harder to post its first shutout of the season, 4-0, in a Section 1-5A game Thursday in Harrison City.

The section-champion Warriors (15-0, 12-0), who came in averaging 8.5 runs, extended their winning streak at home to 14 games and moved four games up on the Panthers.

Franklin Regional (10-6, 9-4), which also is WPIAL playoff-bound, saw its winning streak halted at four.

“She pitched well and kept our kids in the ballpark,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said of Yurinko. “She was in control. That’s going to happen, and our girls need to be aware of that. There are going to be times when we have to squeeze out runs.”

Beall, who pitches just about every inning for the Panthers, was given a day off. Yurinko limited the Warriors to three hits over the first 213 innings but a throwing error on catcher Abby Kane allowed the first run to score.

It wasn’t until the sixth when the usual smash-and-dash Warriors made enough sufficient contact to get runs around. Yurinko went 6 23 innings before giving way to another first-time pitcher, Mariah DeRiggi, who moved over from shortstop.

The Panthers’ No. 2 pitcher, Makinzie DeRiggi, has missed most of the season with a broken leg.

“(Beall) pitched two games this week, so we rested her today,” Panthers coach Jim Armstrong said. “P-T is a great team, a great hitting team. We knew that. But we’re trying to work in some new girls as we move forward. You have to work with what you’ve got. I can’t say enough about Olivia and what she did today.”

Yurinko wasn’t sure if Armstrong was serious when he asked her to pitch.

“I was a little nervous at first considering I’m normally the center fielder and don’t have to worry about anything other than that position,” Yurinko said. “When coach first told me I was pitching I looked at him like. ‘You really want me to do this?’ I did pitch for my tournament team but stopped when I found out there was something wrong with my elbow. So getting back on the mound was also a good feeling and being able to make it almost a full game was even better.

“I’m happy that I could help (Beall) out since she pitches every other game for us.”

Penn-Trafford used a pair of pitchers, who combined on a three-hitter. Morgan Hilty went 423 innings and struck out five, and Mia Smith finished without allowing a hit. One Panther reached base with Smith in the game, but that was on an error — one of four by the Warriors.

“Our girls love to compete and battle,” Little said. “If they’re not hitting, they’ll find a way.”

After Franklin Regional turned a 6-3 double play in the fifth, the Warriors, tired from doing burpees behind the cage for pop-ups, shifted gears.

After Emma Little walked, courtesy runner Lizzie Cermak checked in and stole second. Allie Prady followed with the game’s only extra-base hit, a solid double to left center to make it 2-0.

Cermak is also a sprinter for the track team and bounces between sports. The softball team appreciates her speed. She stole two bases Thursday.

Prady tagged and went to third on a flyout before pinch hitter Lizzie Horvat knocked her in with a sharp single to left.

Carlee Lamacz and Madison Forsythe singled back-to-back, and it was 4-0.

“Once we adjusted we started hitting line drives,” Forsythe said. “We all have our jobs to do, and we have fun when everyone does theirs.”

Franklin Regional loaded the bases with one out in the first but Hilty worked through the jam. The Panthers didn’t get a runner to third after that.

“We need to be able to get some runs in,” Armstrong said. “Our defense has been exceptional at times but we need to keep the offense going.”

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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