Last Updated: Wed Oct 13, 2021 - 9:13PM
Mount Pleasant Area softball played nearly flawless in all facets, cruising to a 13-0 victory in five innings against Punxsutawney Area on Monday at St. Francis University. Courtesy of their mercy rule win, the Vikings advance to the PIAA Class 3A Championship on Friday at Penn State University.
Playing as the road team, the WPIAL Champion Vikings took an early lead, scoring three times on a pair of homers in the first inning. Mount Pleasant Area (20-3) added three more runs in the third, and then sealed the outcome in the fifth, scoring seven more times.
In the opening stanza, junior Katie Hutter led off with a single to right, and senior Haylie Brunson followed with a line-drive home run over the left-center field fence. Two batters later, senior Courtney Poulich crushed a homer that sailed well beyond the fence in center.
The Vikings struck again in the third. Brunson opened the frame by reaching on a three-base error on a ball hit deep down the right field line, and pitcher Mary Smithnosky belted a homer to left field to make it 5-0. Poulich, a Liberty recruit, also scored later in the inning on a double by Abby Swank to extend the Vikings’ edge to six.
While the offense was clicking on all cylinders, the pitching and defense for the Vikings was just as impressive. Smithnosky, a senior committed to Western Michigan, had not yielded a run through five postseason tilts entering Monday, and she continued her scoreless streak against the Chucks. Her lone blemish came on a two-out single by Kaylee Guidice in the second inning, as Smithnosky did not allow another baserunner, and recorded six strikeouts.
In the top of the fifth, the Vikings put the finishing touches on their dominant showing, pounding out more six hits, along with a pair of walks and a hit batter. The most significant blows came on back-to-back doubles by Krista Brunson and Lexi Puskar, and Poulich’s second homer of the contest, a two-run shot that narrowly cleared the fence in left.
In total, the Vikings compiled 13 hits, including Poulich’s performance, as she went 2-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Additionally, senior Hannah Gnibus went 3-4 with a steal and a run scored, Hutter provided a pair of hits, stole two bases, and scored a run, and Haylie Brunson went 1-2 with a pair of walks and three runs scored. Every starter for Mount Pleasant reached base safely and scored a run.
In pursuit of their first PIAA title since 2017, the Vikings will face District 2 Champion Mid Valley, which defeated Central Columbia 1-0 on Monday.
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