Young players deliver for West Mifflin softball in win over Highlands

Monday, April 15, 2024 | 10:43 PM

Youth continues to be served on the West Mifflin softball team as the Titans put themselves in good position for another playoff push with section victory over Highlands on Monday.

Sophomore Rylie Dobnak was 3 for 3 at the plate and was the winning pitcher as the Titans rolled past the Golden Rams, 12-2.

Dobnak is one of six starters who are freshmen or sophomores, all playing key roles for West Mifflin.

“We were a little sloppy early on. We made some baserunning mistakes and missed some signals early on. That has to be cleaned up,” West Mifflin coach Erik Hilligsberg said. “I don’t think we were crisp, so we need to clean that up a little bit. We have a lot of young starters and that’s part of the process.”

Highlands was also sloppy early and it proved costly.

Two Golden Rams errors allowed the Titans to score three runs in the first inning on only one hit, a bunt single.

West Mifflin scored five runs in the next three innings on only three hits thanks to two more errors, a passed ball and several wild pitches.

Titans sophomore Kayleigh Tatters, the leadoff hitter, reached base all four plate appearances with three walks and a triple in her final at-bat.

“I like to have that mindset that every time I’m up to bat, I’m going to get on base,” Tatters said. “I tell myself that every at-bat. I just kept getting walked and really wanted to hit the ball in that last at-bat.”

The lone senior on the West Mifflin roster is Jasalin Guenther, who delivered two hits and let the way with three RBIs.

Titans freshman Adilee Salopak also had a pair of hits in two at-bats.

But it was Dobnak shining at the plate and in the circle.

“She’s been pretty consistent all year,” Hilligsberg said of Dobnak. “I’m absolutely ecstatic about the way she’s been playing, and the girls have really played solid defense behind her. (Tuesday) is our 10th game of the season, so hopefully we can continue being consistent with our pitching and our defense.”

Dobnak finished with two runs allowed on six hits, one walk and 10 strikeouts in six innings.

“I’m definitely hard on myself when I’m hitting, but I think when I’m pitching, I get more enjoyment out of doing well at that,” Dobnak said. “I feel like I’m contributing more to the team when I’m pitching rather than hitting.”

This even though she is now hitting .407 for the season after her two doubles and a single at the plate.

It looked like Highlands would be shut out for the fifth time in six games; however, Jocelyn Scardina smacked a two-run home run deep over the left field fence to spoil the Dobnak shutout bid.

Highlands falls to 0-3 in the section and 0-6 overall as it prepares to host Indiana on Wednesday.

West Mifflin is 2-2 in the section and 5-4 overall with a game at McKeesport on Tuesday followed by a big home game Friday against first-place Indiana.

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