Westmoreland County high school softball notebook: Penn-Trafford serves notice

Wednesday, April 10, 2024 | 11:01 AM

With one result, Penn-Trafford put Class 5A on notice.

The Warriors look like they are back.

After a down season that saw them start 1-6 and finish 6-12 after a first-round playoff loss to Trinity, they appear to have returned to form.

Just ask No. 5 Armstrong, the returning WPIAL 5A runner-up — the 2022 champion — and a PIAA semifinalist last year.

Penn-Trafford took it to the River Hawks in their first Section 2-5A matchup of the season, winning 11-3.

Noel Taylor doubled and drove in three runs, Lorryn Sepe went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and Allison Pokrant homered as the Warriors moved to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in section.

Freshman pitcher Allyson Paulone allowed only five hits and grinded out the win.

“She battled,” coach Denny Little said. “We have to go game by game. We’re only 1-0 in a tough section, but we just beat the section champs.”

Penn-Trafford followed with convincing wins over Franklin Regional, 14-1, and Kiski Area, 18-0.

Cam Ponko hit two home runs, including a grand slam, in the same inning against Franklin Regional.

The Warriors’ losses are to 6A power Hempfield and 3A contender Southmoreland.

Etling commits

Southmoreland junior Makayla Etling announced she will play college softball at North Carolina Pembroke.

Etling is a catcher and a key offensive player for the Scotties.

DePalma injured

Derry is dealing with the loss of sophomore Francesca DePalma, who was hit by a pitch and broke her elbow.

“It broke the bone in half,” said her father and coach, John DePalma. “She’s going to be out for a while, including summer. “Any injury to a small program hurts, and when you eliminate a higher-end travel player from any high-school roster it’s tough to replace. We’re going to have to make some late moves in the infield and see what comes out of it. These things happen every year, and we just have to keep developing and be prepared the best we can.”

Derry was 2-3 overall as it prepared to open Section 3-3A play.

No no-no

Seneca Valley has one of the best pitchers in the nation in Lexie Hames, a Clemson commit.

But Norwin wouldn’t let the senior ace pitch her first seven-inning no-hitter of the season.

Hames was superb, striking out 20 in a 3-0 win. But Kendall Dudley broke up her no-hit bid with a single in the seventh inning.

Rank and file

A glance at the latest TribLive HSSN rankings shows little movement among county teams.

Hempfield is No. 1 and Norwin No. 4 in 6A; Belle Vernon is No. 2 in 4A; and Southmoreland No. 2, Yough No. 4, and Ligonier Valley No. 5 in 3A.

Norwin switch

Norwin and North Allegheny flipped 6A section dates.

The teams moved their opener to McCandless on Wednesday and announced they will play the second game 4 p.m. on May 1 at Norwin.

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

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