Westmoreland softball notebook: Southmoreland returns to winning ways

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021 | 6:53 PM


Southmoreland is off to its best start in five years and could be a challenger to Mt. Pleasant — a section opponent, it just so happens — in Class 3A.

The Scotties (5-0), ranked No. 2 behind Mt. Pleasant, had scored at least six runs in every game, including an 11-1 win over Uniontown and a 10-5 decision against South Park.

Like Yough, a wave of freshmen are making fast progress. The group is blending well with seniors Jess Matheny, Emily Eutsey, juniors Emma Mullet, Tyson Martin, Maddy Cyphert and Elle Pawlikowsky, and sophomore Brynn Charnesky.

“We have 10 freshmen in this class, and it’s special,” coach Todd Bunner said. “Six of them have started in our varsity games so far. We think we can compete.”

The lineup has potential from top to bottom.

Charnesky was hitting.571 with six RBIs, Eutsey .500 with six RBIs and freshman Amaranth McCutheon .500 with a homer and six RBIs.

Matheny, who has been sharp after knee surgery after her freshman season when she won a WPIAL title with the Scotties, has a .357 average with four RBIs.

She is the main pitcher again. Freshman Madison Brown has two pitching wins.

“Jess is a coach’s dream,” Bunner said. “She is a leader, very athletic, humble, hard working, great attitude and never gives up. She is helpful with underclassmen and a great person.”

What a welcome

Ligonier Valley has warmed up to the WPIAL quicker than any other team on campus since the school began play in the league last year.

The Rams (4-0), who left District 6, have surged to No. 1 in the TribLive HSSN Class 2A rankings and were tied with Serra Catholic in Section 2 earlier this week.

Wait, it gets better.

The team had not allowed a run, outscoring four opponents, 28-0. That included a 3-0 victory over Class 4A No. 5-ranked Belle Vernon.

And junior pitcher Maddie Griffin and her defense had tossed three no-hitters. Only Seton LaSalle has managed a hit — four of them — against the Rams. Griffin had 51 strikeouts in four games.

“She was good. I was impressed,” Belle Vernon coach Tom Rodriguez said. “She kept us off-guard. She was throwing in low 60s (MPH).”

Rodriguez coached one of the WPIAL’s all-time greats, Bailey Parshall, now at Penn State. He witnessed a number of no-hitters from his lefty ace.

“Now I know how other teams felt while batting against BP,” Rodriguez said.

Above average

It’s no secret Mt. Pleasant can swing the bats, but the top-ranked team in WPIAL Class 3A has put up some ridiculous numbers through seven games.

Four girls are hitting .450 or above, including three at .600 or better. Senior Haylie Brunson is leading in several categories. She has a .692 average with eight doubles, four home runs, 21 RBIs and 11 runs. Senior Courtney Poulich is hitting .667 with two homers, while junior Katie Hutter (Akron) has a .654 average with two homers and 13 runs; senior Hannah Gnibus is batting .458 with five doubles, a homer and 10 runs; senior Mary Smithnosky has a .435 average and sophomore Sophia Smithnosky is hitting .440.

The Smithnosky sisters each have four doubles and a home run.

The Vikings have 11 home runs and are averaging 8.6 runs.

Evening the score

Norwin erased some recent history that could only be classified as unsavory against a section opponent.

The Knights clubbed North Allegheny, 9-2, on Tuesday to snap a three-game skid against the Tigers. Sydney Lokay hit a three-run homer, and Madi Kessler added a two-run shot for the Knights.

North Allegheny swept the season series in 2019, then beat the Knights in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals, 8-4.

Extra bases

Franklin Regional scored 22 runs on 22 hits in a 22-0 win over Penn Hills. … Penn-Trafford senior Brooke Cleland has hit five home runs in her last four games, including two each against Hempfield and Gateway. … Mt. Pleasant moved to No. 2 in the TribLive HSSN 3A state rankings.

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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