Westmoreland high school notebook: First-time softball champions come up big defensively

Sunday, June 16, 2019 | 8:37 PM

Penn-Trafford and Frazier softball teams had a lot in common when they won PIAA softball titles on Friday at Penn State’s Beard Field.

Not only were they the school’s first state titles, they did it by making big plays on defense.

Penn-Trafford won the Class 5A title, a 5-3 win against Lampeter-Strasburg, by coming with three key defensive plays to stop rallies.

Senior catcher Carlee Lamacz picked off a runner with the bases loaded to preserve a 2-1 lead in the third inning.

Two innings later, sophomore right fielder Emma Little made a great running catch on the warning track with the tying runners on base.

And in the seventh, junior third baseman Jess Lichota snagged a line drive off her left wrist to retire the lead-off hitter.

“I still don’t know how Jess caught that,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “You have to make plays in big games. Carlee picked off a runner against West Allegheny the same way. It’s stuff we work on every day.”

Frazier’s win came in dramatic fashion, posting a game-ending double play in a 6-5 victory against Brandywine Heights in the Class 2A game.

With the bases loaded after Frazier coach Don Hartman ordered an intentional walk, Commodores right fielder Mackenzie Kelly caught a fly ball and uncorked a strike to junior catcher Juliann to cut down the potential tying run at the plate.

“This is the one piece of hardware that was missing from my trophy case,” Hartman said. “I’ve been coaching high school sports for 27 years, and I didn’t know if I’d ever win this. I lost as a player back in 1984, and I’ll never forget that. This is my greatest coaching dream.”

But Hartman said he was happier for his 12 players.

“They came to work every day, believed what we do and never quit,” Hartman said. “I went with my gut feeling in the intentional walk. It was do-or-die and what a way to end the game.

“People say you need a little luck along the way to win titles. Sure we had some, but we also made our own luck.”

Harvey: ‘Time to get out’

Art “Dutch” Harvey is stepping away from a job he loves. The West Newton resident resigned Tuesday as Yough’s softball coach.

“It was time to get out,” Harvey said. “I have my reasons, but players and parents aren’t the reason I’m stepping down.”

Harvey said the demands of his job and wanting to watch his daughter, Allie, finish her college career at Seton Hill are two of the reasons, but there were others he didn’t want to expand on.

The Cougars became one of the top programs in the WPIAL under Harvey.

Yough was PIAA Class AAA champion in 2016 and compiled a 94-30 record, 56-5 in section competition.

“I loved coaching and teaching the players,” Harvey said. “I’ve had a great bunch of girls over the years. Now it’s time to move on.”

Harvey still will coach his travel team in the summer and didn’t rule out coming back to coaching at some time.

Yough was WPIAL runner-up twice and finished third twice. The Cougars defeated Lampeter-Strasburg, 1-0, in the 2016 state title game.

They took the similar path that Penn-Trafford took in winning the Class 5A title this year. Yough finished third and ended up defeating Donegal, 1-0, in the semifinals and then Lampeter-Strasburg.

Harvey started the Yough Middle School program, coached one year at Penn-Trafford and then the past six at Yough.

Missing stars

Harvey said he and Elizabeth Forward coach Harry Rutherford agreed Spring-Ford had one of the best teams in the state after playing the 6A power at Disney.

But Spring-Ford lost in the PIAA Class 6A semifinals as Pennsylvania Gatorade Softball Player of the Year, sophomore pitcher Brianna Peck, didn’t play. Spring-Ford coach Tim Hughes wouldn’t comment on Peck’s absence.

Lampeter-Strasburg benefited from opposing players electing not to play in the PIAA semifinals. The top two hitters from West Chester East opted to stay at the beach for “Senior Week” instead playing with their teammates. Lampeter-Strasburg won 5-2.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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