WAYNESBURG – The Trinity Hillers entered their WPIAL Class 5A softball playoff game Tuesday as heavy favorites as the No. 3 seed and delivered with an 11-2 win over 14th-seeded Connellsville at Waynesburg University.
The Hillers faced some early adversity as the first two batters for Connellsville came around to score. The Hillers answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning.
“I knew there were going to be some nerves early on,” Trinity head coach Shawn Gray said. “I’m glad we were able to tie it early and get those two runs back right away.”
After surrendering two runs in the first inning, Trinity’s starting pitcher Taylor Dunn dominated the game from the circle. Dunn pitched seven innings, allowing five hits, one walk, and recording five strikeouts.
“She’s been this way all season,” Gray said. “She’s been a solid performer all year long and I’m very happy with her performance today.”
The Hillers capitalized twice on opportunities recording triples with two outs. First, junior Amber Morgan hit a triple that extended Trinity’s lead to 5-2 in the fourth inning. Her classmate, Madison Argo, delivered a clutch bases-clearing triple, which extended the Hillers’ lead to 8-2 in the fifth inning.
“Those were two key hits for us,” Gray said. “You have to have baserunners and then have a timely hit. That’s when the game matters the most. They came through for the team today.”
Trinity freshman Hannah Suhoski went 4-for-4 with three base hits, a double, and two runs batted in.
“She’s been a big freshman for us all season,” Gray said. “She’s been a great addition to our lineup and always seems to come through in big moments.”
The Hillers move on to the quarterfinals where they will face a familiar foe in 11th-seed Chartiers Valley on Thursday. The Colts upset No. 6 Fox Chapel 11-1 in 5 innings. Trinity and Chartiers Valley are section rivals.
“We know each other very well,” Gray said. “They’ve got great competitors up and down the lineup, but if we play our game we should be successful.”
Mapletown , the No. 8 seed in Class A, picked up a 14-0 victory against ninth-seeded Bishop Canevin in five innings in the opening game of the doubleheader.
The win puts the Maples into the quarterfinals against a familiar foe, section rival West Greene.
Mapletown jumped out to an early lead behind excellent plate discipline and baserunning. Bishop Canevin starting pitcher senior Alysha Cutri struggled to find the strike zone as the Maples were able to draw nine walks and advance five times on wild pitches.
“We knew if we made her throw strikes and go long into counts it would catch up to her in the later innings,” Mapletown head coach Jeff Cree said. “The passed balls with the backstop as big as it played was a factor in this game as well.”
The Maples also imposed an aggressive baserunning strategy, stealing 11 bases, even swiping second base three times immediately after drawing a walk.
“It was part of the game plan,” said Cree. “Our game plan was to put the ball in play, make them make plays on us and we’d have success.”
Mapletown senior Macee Cree started in the circle for the Maples. Cree allowed only one hit over five innings, walking none and striking out two. Of the 15 outs Cree recorded, only two left the infield.
The Mapletown lineup produced five hits. Cree, Hannah Hartely, Taylor Dusenberry, and Krista Wilson all recorded doubles and Danielle Jennings delivered a single in the fifth inning.
The Maples are winless against the Pioneers in two meetings this season.
“It’s going to take a complete game from us,” Cree said. “We’ve played them well at times, but we have one or two bad innings that have decided those games. I think the scores of the previous two games aren’t a true indicator of how we’ve played.”