WPIAL Class 3A softball championship preview: Mt. Pleasant vs. Ellwood City
Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | 2:01 PM
1-Mt. Pleasant (16-3) vs. 11-Ellwood City (14-4)
2:15 p.m. Wednesday at Lilley Field, Cal (Pa.)
Road to the finals
• Mt. Pleasant — Mt. Pleasant has yet to yield a run in the postseason, beating Derry, 6-0, and Avonworth, 8-0. Pitcher Mary Smithnosky is 2-0 with 23 strikeouts. She has been a dual threat as she also has two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. She pitched a one-hitter and hit a three-run home run in the semifinals.
• Ellwood City — Ellwood City has championship pedigree, having raised the trophy three times before, but all three times, the Wolverines were a No. 1 seed. This year, they’ve been scrappy underdogs, beating Deer Lakes, 7-5, Waynesburg, 7-4, and Southmoreland, 4-2.
Secret to their success
• Mt. Pleasant — The Vikings have a lethal lineup led by six seniors. Among them are some of the top offensive players in the WPIAL in Haylie Brunson (.591, 39 hits, 18 2B, 5 HR, 34 RBIs), Smithnosky (.475, 24 RBIs) and Hannah Gnibus (.419, 20 runs). Junior leadoff hitter Katie Hutter bats .565 with 39 hits and 31 runs.
• Ellwood City — The Wolverines have a young roster with solid veteran leadership from a pair of seniors. Senior catcher Maria Ioanilli has a .500 average with six home runs and 24 RBIs. Ioanilli, Angie Nardone and Kyla Servick had two hits each, and Mollie Street homered and drove in two in the quarterfinals. Freshman Julia Nardone limited Southmoreland’s potent order to six hits, just one for extra bases.
• Mt. Pleasant — Even though they only have one WPIAL title to show for it, the Vikings have been one of the top district softball teams in the last five years. Mt. Pleasant beat West Allegheny to win the 2016 WPIAL Class AAA championship. The Vikings lost in the district semifinals but went on to win the PIAA Class 4A crown in 2017. They lost in both the district and state semifinals in 2018 and lost to Elizabeth Forward, 3-0, in the 2019 WPIAL Class 4A final.
• Ellwood City — Though they have raised some eyebrows this spring, making the finals as the No. 11 seed, the Wolverines have also enjoyed great success in the district playoffs in the last 16 years. Ellwood City lost to Ambridge in the 2005 Class AAA final, but since then has won three WPIAL titles, beating Belle Vernon in 2008, South Park in 2016 and the team they upset in the first round this year, Deer Lakes, 10-0 in the 2017 title game.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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