Waywood sharp in circle as Yough softball shuts out Indiana

Monday, May 21, 2018 | 8:25 PM

Yough's Kierra Waywood missed some time recently with a self-caused injury to her pitching arm. She bruised her elbow while warming up for a late-season game when her arm grazed her hip.

Not a full-on freak injury, but in the same ballpark.

“I was trying to throw a certain pitch, that's the only time that happens,” she said of the arm-to-body contact.

Waywood didn't try anything fancy when she returned to the pitching circle for the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals.

She inflicted damage on the opponent this time.

The junior pitched a complete game with five strikeouts and delivered a run-scoring single as No. 2 seed Yough bounced No. 7 Indiana, 3-0, on Monday on the turf at sunny Seton Hill.

The Cougars (16-3), who beat Indiana in the first round last year, advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight season.

Yough reached the WPIAL title game last year where it lost to Belle Vernon, 4-1. The Cougars won the PIAA title two years ago.

“I just wanted to get back, get healthy and come out and do my job,” Waywood said. “It felt good to be out there.”

Yough, fresh off four straight section titles, stayed sharp during a 12-day layoff and first-round bye with amped-up scrimmages against other Westmoreland playoff teams.

“It was a long time off, but we had a couple of good scrimmages against Penn-Trafford and Hempfield,” Yough coach Dutch Harvey said. “We want to stay fresh. Even over the Memorial Day Weekend I want to scrimmage (Latrobe) and keep them sharp — if we get through Wednesday. That will be a tough game.”

Yough gets No. 6 Elizabeth Forward (18-3) in the semifinals Wednesday at a time and site to be announced. Yough beat EF twice in Section 2 play this season. Three Section 2 teams made the semis, Belle Vernon (19-3) the other.

After a scoreless first three innings, Yough put up three runs in the fourth to give Waywood something to work with.

After senior second baseman Aubrie Mance led off with a double to left-center, Waywood knocked her in with a single to left.

Senior Kayley Westerman then singled and freshman Savannah Manns dropped a sacrifice bunt. That set up freshman Sammie McGhee's two-run double to give the Cougars a 3-0 advantage.

“It took a lot of pressure off,” said Waywood, who mentioned the solid pitching of Yough's No. 2 pitcher, senior Karlie Clark, who filled the circle while Waywood was injured. “I know the team has it; they always got my back. It's a matter of time before they start hitting.”

Indiana (13-6) put runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the seventh, a Yough error contributing to the 11th-hour rally attempt, but Waywood got Megan Wood to pop out to end it.

Yough knows it could have won by more: the Cougars left six stranded, including a runner at third in the bottom of the third after a caught-stealing.

Still, Harvey was pleased with how most of his hitters recalibrated for Indiana ace pitcher Lauren Bertig.

“When we get runners on base we have to advance them a little better than we did today,” Harvey said. “We left a little too many runners stranded. The big inning was nice. (Bertig) kept us off balance with that inside pitch. Our upperclassmen adjusted. Our underclassmen will learn to adjust.

“I felt we can get around on anybody. We kept hoping to turn on that inside pitch.”

Mance, who went 2 for 3, appeared to make a highlight-reel catch in the top of the fourth, but the play was ruled a bloop single.

“That was a catch,” Harvey said. “Umpires are humans. He turned his back to the play and said so afterwards. I'm just glad it didn't really cost us anything. In games like this, a little change in momentum, you can have issues. That ball never touched the ground.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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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