Wildcat softball falls in opening round of state tournament
By SHAREIK FLOWERS
UNIVERSITY PARK- Central Mountain displayed heart, but in the end Penn Trafford’s streaky hitting decided the game as the Wildcats dropped its state playoff opener to the Warriors, 13-6.
The loss ended Central Mountain’s season. They finished the year 11-10 with a district championship.
“I thought we had some good innings, and some innings that we’re kind of a let-down,” Central Mountain coach Fred Caldwell said. “But the girls did play well at times and we eventually hit their pitchers.”
Central Mountain’s opening inning deflated the team. After Morgan Wetzel made a sliding catch in center field to rob the Warriors of a leadoff hit, Penn Trafford scattered five hits to build a 4-0 lead entering the back half of the inning.
“You never want to go into any game giving up that many runs early, and especially in a big game like this that’s important” Caldwell said. “There’s always a little more nerves when you get into states, and the girls tried to handle it as best as they can. But I think they were a little nervous, and it certainly doesn’t help when you give up four runs right off the bat.”
Penn Trafford extended its lead, 5-0, in the third before CM’s offense awakened in the bottom of the inning. Following Alyssa Fisher’s walk, Caitlyn Watson slapped an RBI double that ricocheted off the center field fence. Morgan Wetzel followed with an RBI single before Riley Houser’s RBI bunt cut the Warriors’ lead, 5-3.
Watson finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI at the plate–and helped anchored the infield for the Wildcat defense . The freshman third basemen recorded a pair of highlight grabs in foul territory and hauled in a line-drive bullet rocketed her direction in the sixth. Watson made significant progress this season and figures to be the backbone of the softball team for the upcoming years.
“To me the biggest improvement I’ve seen from Caitlyn Watson is her ability not to get down self,” Caldwell said of Watson. “I think early in the season whenever she got two strikes, or a call went against her, she had a tendency to kind of get down on herself. Her mental approach to the game has been her greatest improvement. “
Morgan Nedley increased the Warriors’ lead, 7-3, after she cracked a two-run blast in the fifth. However the resilient Wildcats responded in the bottom of the frame. Morgan Wetzel smacked a single, which set up back-to-back RBIs by Autumn Dershem and Riley Houser to slash the deficit, 7-5.
Wetzel, who’s committed to Lycoming College next season for softball, finished the afternoon 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.
“Morgan is definitely one of our leading hitters,” Caldwell said. “She’s kind of been the mainstay at the plate, and we’re going to miss that bat next year. But she did today, as she’s done all year, which is a fantastic job.”
CM’s defense struggled in the seventh . They trailed just 7-5 entering the inning before Penn Trafford exploded for six runs off four hits to build a comfortable 13-5 lead.
The Warriors totaled 14 hits in the game, nine of which were for extra bases.
“We knew coming in they were a good hitting team,” Caldwell said of the Warriors. “I haven’t seen a lot of stats, but the ones I have seen indicated that they were a very good hitting team and they were. “
Autumn Dershem completed the Wildcats’ scoring with an RBI single in the final frame, but Penn Trafford secured the victory with a double play strikeout and put-out at first for the 13-6 win.
“In my mind if we would have had a couple more innings we would’ve came back again,” Caldwell said. “That’s just the kind of team we’ve been. I wish we would’ve started stronger earlier, but we’ll work on that for next year. “
Central Mountain 6
PT 401 000 6–13 14 0
CM 003 0201– 6 10 0
WP: Morgan Hilty
LP: Madison Knepp
Central Mountain: Morgan Wetzel 3-4, 2B, RBI; Caitlyn Watson 2-4, 2B, RBI; Riley Houser 2-4, 2 RBI; Autumn Dershem 1-3, 2 RBI; Kylie Wagner 1-3, 2B.
Penn Trafford: Morgan Nedley 2-4, HR, 3RBI; Brooke Cleland 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Jess Lichota 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI.
Central Mountain: 11-10