Waywood’s gem lifts Yough over Frazier in charity event

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 | 8:32 PM

Kierra Waywood took the name of her team’s fundraiser to heart.

The Yough senior pitcher tossed a complete game, struck out 16 batters, allowed just two hits and scored the decisive run as the Cougars (12-5) topped Frazier, 3-0, in nonsection action Wednesday.

The dominant performance highlighted a charitable event called “Strikeout Cancer.” A year ago, Yough’s game against Elizabeth Forward raised $6,000 for two Yough students fighting the disease.

Of the 16 batters Waywood sat down via strikeout, 10 were of the looking variety. It was an impressive accomplishment against a Frazier offense that entered the game having scored 146 runs and with a collective .407 batting average this season.

“My pitches were really working today,” said Waywood, a Cal (Pa.) recruit. “Around the third or fourth inning, I started to think, OK, I’m grooving now.”

Waywood struck out a batter in every inning and punched out at least two in every inning but the last. During the middle innings she, at one point, retired nine hitters in a row. Then she repeated that feat to close the game.

“She’s been throwing really well,” Cougars coach Dutch Harvery said. “We were doing a little in-and-out and up stuff, and it was working pretty good. Her rise ball, she’s thrown it for a couple years now, but when you can set it up with the outside pitch and then come up and in, it’s tough for most batters to not swing.”

Waywood scored the game’s opening run after a single to lead off the bottom of the first inning. She reached second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a ground out. She came in to score when Frazier starter Logan Hartman threw a wild pitch.

The 1-0 score held until the sixth inning. Yough’s Nevaeh Chopp reached on an bunt single. Two batters later, Kaylyn Odelli laid down a bunt that Frazier’s Kathryn Barch threw away, allowing Chopp and Odelli to move into scoring position. Chopp was then tagged out at the plate, but Savannah Manns reached base on the fielder’s choice. Manns stole second, again putting runners at second and third base.

On the ensuing at-bat, Yough’s Hannah Christner gave the Cougars — and Waywood — some insurance, driving a two-out single through the right side, scoring Odelli and Manns to push the lead to 3-0.

Yough’s small ball mentality paid off after struggling with Hartman, who allowed three runs, with two earned, on four hits. She struck out seven batters while not issuing a walk.

“You have to put pressure if you’re not getting anything going, which we surely weren’t there,” Harvey said. “A lot of times, if you put pressure on somebody, they’ll make a mistake. If they don’t, then you just try something different. But it worked here.”

While the game lacked significance in terms of playoff seeding or positioning, Yough’s win, against Frazier (14-3), ranked second in Class 2A, is a positive heading into the postseason.

“We wanted a quality opponent,” Harvey said. “It seemed like everybody was booked up today. They’re a well coached team. I knew (Frazier coach Don Hartman’s) team would be a good test, and they definitely played a great game.”

The game, however, was far less meaningful than the cause. Fans were able to pledge money for specific softball related actions. Ten dollars for a strikeout, five dollars for a hit, and so forth. The money will be donated to the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

“My grandpa put two dollars on every strikeout I had,” Waywood said. “There was a time where I was getting 10 strikeouts every game. My dad said, ‘listen, 10 dollars for every strikeout after 10. So now he’s got to buck up.”

Harvey has used the event which was jointly participated in by Frazier’s players, coaches and fans, as a learning moment for his players.

“It teaches them that there’s a little more to life than softball,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to bring to them. There’s always someone that needs it. We’ve probably raised over $10,000 in the five years we’ve done it.”

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