Mount Union keeps history books open

Sentinel photo by TIM SHUMAKER
Mount Union catcher Diana Roher tags Frazier’s Kayla Matway for an out as Matway attempts to score on a squeeze bunt play.

UNIVERSITY PARK — There was simply no way Mount Union wanted its magical season to end just knowing it had won the first district championship in program history.

Fortunately for the Trojans, they were able to add another chapter to the story in defeating District 7 runner-up Frazier, 9-6, in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A softball tournament.

The win marks the first time any girls team from Mount Union has won a state playoff game.

Mount Union will play District 10 champion Saegertown, a 4-1 winner over Chartiers Houston, Thursday at a time and place to be determined.

Frazier held the lead for two innings, but a seven-run outburst by the Trojans in the bottom of the second made all the difference in the game.

Mount Union got its first five hitters in the inning on base with three — Kadyn Crisswell, Morgan Brumbaugh and McKenna Shields — collecting three straight RBI doubles.

The Trojans’ outs also were productive with Diana Roher hitting a sacrifice fly to left to score Shields and later Karrigan Woodward hit the ball back to the pitcher, who made the unassisted tag on Woodward. But that allowed Taylor Fortney — who reached on an error — to score.

“We’ve got ourselves a big inning there and we made it stand up,” Mount Union coach Matt Fiscus said. “Once we get momentum, we’re hard to stop. We’ve had several big innings this year … We don’t have a soft spot in our order. A lot of teams get past their fourth batter and they’re just waiting to get back to the top. We hit right through the lineup.”

The seven-run lead didn’t just help calm Fiscus, but also brought relief to pitcher Sarah Gearhart.

“I rely on the team,” she said. “I know we’re good and we can hit. I know I have the girls behind me and the one in front of me and know that we can play good defense. We know how to put it all together. Sometimes, we get off to a rough start, and we like to make our parents chew their fingernails, but we come back from it and get ‘er done.”

Frazier struck for four runs in the first three innings. The biggest hit came off the bat of Lauren Mastwoski, who turned a full-count pitch around for a leadoff home run in the third inning.

Gearhart, though, worked her way out of trouble as the Commodores stranded five runners, three in scoring position.

“The first couple of innings, I thought, ‘Man, they’re tough,'” Fiscus said. “You knew in the state playoffs, you weren’t going to play any bad teams this time of year. But they came out and Sarah right off the bat, probably the hardest she’s been hit all year. I was a little scared, but we have a really good defense with nothing really dropping in unless it’s well hit.”

The biggest ducks on the pond were the two Frazier left in the seventh, with Gearhart getting two outs with the Commodores having the game-tying run at the plate with one out.

Fiscus wasn’t the least surprised to see the result.

“I’m starting to feel there’s a big difference between pitchers and throwers and Sarah is a pitcher,” Fiscus said. “She’s been around long enough to know they hit a pitch earlier and not show them that again. She’s a pitcher, and pitchers end up surviving and giving their team a chance. That’s what she did today.”

Gearhart also helped her cause some with her bat, going 3-for-4 with a triple. She was one of four hitters — along with Fortney, Madison Harris and Brumbaugh — to have multiple hits.

They knew to swing the bat early, with 24 at-bats finishing in three pitches or less.

“Obviously she’s a faster pitcher, coming up in states,” Brumbaugh said. “She has great location, and as hitters, we talked about what we’re seeing out there. We put our toes to the line and being able to hit the outside pitches. We were also able to hit the pitches before their break.

“She’s been coming out with first pitch strikes so we telling each other to be aggressive with the first pitch as it’s coming down the middle. That’s a meat pitch and we got it going.”

The well-rounded play the Trojans put on display is something Fiscus is most proud of as the games get bigger from here on.

“They’ve played some good ball toward the end of the year,” he said. “They play well, play hard and we’ve molded together as a team to play some of the best ball all year. That’s all a coach can ask for, really.”

Mount Union 9, Frazier 6

Frazier 211 100 1 – 6-10-3

Mount Union 170 100 x – 9-14-1

WP: Sarah Gearhart. LP: Logan Hartman. SO: Hartman 2 (F); Gearhart (MU). HR: Lauren Mastowski (F). 3B: Gearhart, Taylor Fortney (MU). 2B: Hartman, Kayla Matway (F); Fortney, Kadyn Crisswell, Morgan Brumbaugh, McKenna Shields (MU). MH: Hartman 2-for-4, Matway 2-for-4, Mastowski 2-for-3 (F); Gearhart 3-for-4, Fortney 2-for-4; Madison Harris 2-for-3, Brumbaugh 3-for-3 (MU). RBI: Matway 2, Emi Curcio, Kara Mastowski, L. Mastowski, Megan Celaschi (F); Diana Roher, Fortney, Karrigan Woodward, Crisswell, Brumbaugh, Shields (MU).