Westmoreland high school softball notebook: Sister pairs contribute for Mt. Pleasant

Monday, May 24, 2021 | 6:12 PM

Sister combinations are nothing new to high school softball, but having multiple combos is a little less common.

Mt. Pleasant, set to play Avonworth on Tuesday in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals at Penn-Trafford, has two sets of sisters, and they all contribute.

Both consist of a senior and sophomore.

Haylie Brunson is a senior third baseman, and sophomore Krista Brunson is an outfielder.

Senior Mary Smithnosky is the team’s top pitcher, but her sister, sophomore Sophia Smithnosky, also spends time in the circle when she is not playing second base.

They all had key hits — the Brunsons had two apiece — in a 6-0 win over Derry in the quarterfinals.

“Sometimes you can have that disconnect with an 18-year-old senior and a 14-year-old freshman,” coach Chris Brunson said. “With the sisters here, we don’t see that. They have helped each other along, and that has been a big part of our continuity. It helps with what we’re doing.”

Haylie Brunson and Mary Smithnosky are glad they have at least one season with their siblings before heading to college. Brunson will play at Pitt and Smithnosky at Western Michigan.

The 2020 season was wiped away, so they could not play together as juniors and freshmen courtesy runners.

Local twinbill

Section opponents Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland, hoping to meet again in the WPIAL title game, will play back-to-back games Tuesday at Penn-Trafford.

In a Class 3A semifinal doubleheader, No. 7 Southmoreland (11-4) faces No. 11 Ellwood City (13-4) at 2 p.m., followed by No. 1 Mt. Pleasant (15-3) and No. 4 Avonworth (12-5) at 4.

Poulich in top form

Mt. Pleasant senior first baseman Courtney Poulich has been down a long road to reach a healthy senior season.

The Liberty commit has had multiple injuries that have cost her months of missed time both in and out of season. In 2019, she snapped the hamstring in her left leg and missed most of the season. Then, she injured her hip labrum on the same left side and missed substantial time.

A lot of the down time, however, was spent during the covid year. Not much of a consolation prize but more time to heal nonetheless.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Poulich, who has been one of the Vikings’ top hitters this season with a .500-plus average and six home runs. “I was upsetting to not be able to come back sooner. But I am so glad I was able to play this year. This is the best team to play for.”

Scotties rounding into form

Southmoreland made a mad rush late in the regular season to get in games after a team-wide covid shutdown, leaving much of what happened a blur. They played four games in two days.

Inclement weather caused 10 days of down time and pushed the Scotties indoors for tedious practices.

But the team looks like it is settling into a more normal routine in a season that has been anything but normal.

“We are getting it together at the right time,” coach Todd Bunner said. “When you rush like that you risk injuries and trying to keep the girls focused. It’s been a challenge but we have stayed patient, and, yes, things are starting to feel a little more like usual again.”

Norwin motivated

Second-seeded Norwin (14-2) doesn’t have to look far for motivation heading into its Class 6A semifinal Wednesday against Canon-McMillan (8-9).

The Knights never have been to the WPIAL championship but sit a win away from that decades-long goal in the program.

Early exits

A couple of stunning upsets shook the Westmoreland softball community in the two largest classifications.

First, No. 3 seed and five-time defending champion Hempfield lost to No. 6 Canon-McMillan, 2-1, in the 6A quarterfinals. Hempfield (12-6) had not been one-and-done in the tournament since 2011. Perhaps a more brow-raising result came in the 5A quarterfinals when No. 1 Penn-Trafford, a favorite of many to win it all, was knocked off by No. 8 North Hills, 6-1.

The Warriors, two years removed from a PIAA title, are done at 15-5.

Warriors coach Denny Little gave props to Indians sophomore pitcher Sophia Roncone.

“She had awesome stuff and shut our bats down,” Little said. “She pitched amazing. They were the best team on the field that day. They even got us with a pick-off to beat us at our own game.”

Little said the Indians brought high levels of energy, from the dugout to an engaged student section.

“They reminded me of us two years ago,” he said. “Hats off to North Hills. I wish them the best of luck.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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