McMURRAY — The Monessen softball team advanced to the Class A finals the past two years, but a lot changed for the Lady Greyhounds from the prior two springs.
After the departure of some key seniors, including Robert Morris’ Dana Vatakis, Monessen had a first-round upset on its mind Tuesday afternoon.
Despite holding a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Lady Greyhounds were unable to pull off a first-round upset in the WPIAL Class A softball playoffs, suffering a 5-4 loss to Sewickley Academy at Pleasant Valley Elementary Field.
“We showed some heart today and at the end of the day, we gave ourselves a chance to win,” Monessen coach Carlee Wickstrom said. “We had some mental errors that hurt us at the end. We are young and we will learn from this game.”
After starting the season with a below .500 section record, the Lady Greyhounds (6-10) rallied with a strong second half and finished fourth in the tough Section 2-A.
“We definitely turned things around and are a completely different team from the start of the spring,” Wickstrom said. “We pushed ourselves into this position and we just chipped away every game. A lot of people didn’t think we could get back to the playoffs.”
The fourth-seeded Lady Panthers (9-3) were able to avoid the upset with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Alina Mattson scored on an infield error and Maggie Goebel came through with a two-out, RBI single for the game-winning run.
“I loved our poise and composure,” Sewickley Academy coach Heather Border said. “We didn’t get rattled from being down late. This team has strong leaders and they are very resilient. I think our seniors wanted this win so bad and they didn’t want the season to end today.”
Sewickley Academy will now play Jefferson-Morgan, a 15-1 winner over Rochester, in the quarterfinals on Monday at a site and time to be determined.
Alexis Barlock earned the complete-game win, allowing four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks on 93 pitches.
Hannah Yorty was tagged with the loss, allowing five runs on nine hits in six innings with 11 strikeouts and two walks on 122 pitches.
“Hannah has been outstanding for us,” Wickstrom said. “I think now she has over 100 strikeouts on the season and she just gives us a chance to win every game. She has really developed her pitches and her off-speed pitch is coming along.”
The sophomore was also a force on offense with a double and three singles to account for four of Monessen’s seven hits.
Goebel and Kendall Lightcap started the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles, as Sewickley Academy grabbed an early 1-0 lead. The Lady Panthers pushed their lead to 3-0 in the third inning after a pair of runners scored on passed balls.
Monessen finally broke through in the fifth when Yorty and Madison Telegraphis both had RBI singles. The Lady Greyhounds then took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning after a RBI groundout by Soleil Simpson and Gracie Zizis scoring on an infield error.
“It’s all about work ethic and working hard in the offseason,” Wickstrom said. “The talent is there for us, we just got to put in the work. This was my first year, so we were just learning from each other. The girls got experience and we have to continue to build.”