Hometown Softball Recap - Hempfield Spartans

HEMPFIELD SPARTANS 3 - LATROBE WILDCATS 1
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The Hempfield Area Spartans remained undefeated by edging section rival Greater Latrobe 3-1 at Hempfield Area High School on Thursday. Two Spartans runs in the bottom of the third proved to be the deciding factor, as Hempfield's pitcher Morgan Ryan made that led stand over the final four innings. As a result of the highly-anticipated matchup in Class 6A Section 2, the Spartans improved to 5-0, and 9-0 overall. Conversely, the loss dropped Greater Latrobe to 3-1, and 4-2 overall.

It was the Wildcats who seemingly had the edge early, as GL had a pair of hits in the first inning, courtesy of Sarah Blair and Karley Kovatch. With those players at third and second, respectively, Morgan Schweizer grounded a ball to shortstop, as the Spartans recorded the out at first base. On the throw, Blair broke for the plate, but was gunned down by Hempfield first baseman Stacey Walling to end the threat.

In the top of the second, the Wildcats again had a pair of runners on base, but Ryan fanned Angela DeOrio to retire the side. In the bottom of the frame, the Spartans drew first blood, as Autumn Beasley drilled a solo home run to left field against Wildcats starting pitcher Ashley Pagliei.

The Spartans' lead was short lived, as Greater Latrobe plated its first and only run in the top of the third stanza. Makayla Munchinski led off the inning with a single, and consecutive singles by Kovatch and Schweizer brought her home. Ryan avoided further damage, though, by retiring the next two hitters.

Greater Latrobe turned to Meredith Carr in the circle in the bottom of the third, and the move backfired, as the Spartans scored the decisive two runs. Ali Belgiovane led off by drawing a walk, and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice. She then scored on a single from Jenna Osikowicz. Osikowicz later scored, after both Ryan and Maddie Stoner delivered singles of their own. Kiley Myers came on in relief of Carr and induced a double play to limit the damage, but the Spartans' defense and pitching would make the lead stand.

Ryan, a Notre Dame recruit, limited Greater Latrobe to just one hit over the final four innings. She also compiled six strikeouts, but when the ball was put in play, her teammates were strong defensively. To that point, the final out of the game was a sharply-struck line drive off the bat of Schweizer, but Osikowicz lunged and deflected the ball from her second base position, and then caught the ball before it fell to the ground.

Hempfield Area's next contest will be a nonsection affair on the road against another defending PIAA champion, the Yough Cougars. Greater Latrobe, meanwhile, will host North Allegheny in a nonconference matchup.

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