Yough softball rallies to stay in section title hunt; errors doom Belle Vernon

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Monday, May 9, 2022 | 9:02 PM


Trailing by a run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning Monday afternoon, the Yough softball team managed to rally without getting a single hit.

The Cougars were down to their last strike on three occasions against Belle Vernon pitcher Talia Ross, yet they managed to plate three runs en route to a 4-2 come-from-behind victory in Section 2-4A play.

“We went choke and poke, started putting the ball on the ground and good things started happening,” Yough coach Dutch Harvey said. “That’s what happens when you put the ball in play rather than taking that outside pitch and looking at it.”

In the seventh, the Leopards (10-6, 8-4) experienced a few defensive miscues behind Ross, who allowed just one earned run on six hits with 12 strikeouts in the loss.

Ross walked Kaylin Ritenour with two away in the frame before Emma Augustine reached on an error by Lexi Daniels. With Ritenour at third, Adoria Waldier hit a sharp ground ball that was misplayed by shortstop Ashley Joll, allowing the Cougars (12-1, 10-1) to plate the tying run.

A walk to Maddie Horvat loaded the bases, and Katie Proctor followed with a ground ball that bounced off the glove of Daniels, allowing two to score.

Yough pitcher Emma Augustine set BVA down in order in the bottom of the seventh, finishing off the win by inducing a hard-hit flyout to McKenzie Pritts in center field.

“That’s a tough one to lose,” Belle Vernon coach Tom Rodriguez said. “They didn’t even get a hit in that inning, and they still scored three runs. Those three errors just killed us.”

The Leopards failed to convert on a golden opportunity to expand their one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Abby Fabin, who went 2 for 2 with a run scored in the defeat, reached on a single before Maren Metikosh was intentionally walked to put two runners on. The bases became loaded on an infield single by Ashley Joll.

The lone senior on Yough’s roster, Augustine managed to get out of the jam as she punched out Mia Zubovic and induced a pair of flyouts to Horvat at second base. Augustine allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in the win.

“I just knew we had to get putouts there in that sixth inning,” Harvey said. “I knew Em could pitch out of it, we just had to play defense.”

The Leopards tried to play a bit of small ball with the bases full, attempting a couple of bunts down the right-field line in hopes of plating an insurance run. The strategy wasn’t effective, though, as Zubovic and Gracie Sokol struggled to keep their bunt attempts fair.

“If a kid strikes out or makes an error, I’m not going to holler at them, but if you can’t get a bunt down, something needs to happen,” Rodriguez said. “If we get a bunt down, we score. It’s not like we don’t focus on it at practice cause we have to get as many bunts in as swings.”

Yough scored the first run of the contest in the top of the fourth inning after Horvat reached on a one-out single. She later moved to second on a walk to Abbey Zuraw before Sidney Bergman delivered with an RBI single into left-center field.

The Leopards responded in the bottom half of the frame thanks to the power bat of Metikosh.

After Fabin led off the inning with a single, Metikosh drove a 2-1 pitch from Augustine over the fence in right-center field for a two-run homer that gave the Leopards a 2-1 edge. It was Metikosh’s fifth home run of the season. She has 32 RBIs.

Whereas BVA will set its focus on a nonsection clash with Latrobe today, the section title will be up for grabs when the Cougars travel to William Penn Field to finish off a game against Elizabeth Forward.

The game, which started last week before being postponed because of rain, will begin with EF leading 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning. The Warriors will have a runner on second base with nobody out.

“We have to overcome two runs, but I think we’ll have a chance at it,” Harvey said. “Today, we overcame a deficit in one inning. If we can do that, we can do it in four.”

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