Plum Notebook: Softball team grabs last spot, earns Class 5A playoff trip
Sunday May 15, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.
It’s been a turbulent season for the Plum softball team, but last Tuesday against Penn Hills the Mustangs were able to pull off a win that earned them a spot in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.
Plum controlled his own destiny for the fourth and final spot in Division 1. The Mustangs also considered a measure of revenge on their neighborhood rivals after an 18-8 loss to the Indians on April 13.
It was a different story in the rematch as the Penn Hills bats were put down by Makenzie Lang’s throw and no error from the defense behind her.
In his best outing of the season, Lang allowed just four hits and scored none while striking out eight.
She got all the support she needed as the Plum Bats delivered two runs top of the first. The Mustangs added confidence with two runs in the third and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Plum had 12 hits that day, with Taylor Lorish having the biggest impact. She went 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
Jaralyn Kincaid, Dani Pici and Ashley Polakovic each recorded a pair of hits. Kincaid and Polakovic doubled in the win.
Pici, a freshman, drove a run, giving her the team’s best 18 RBI of the season.
Plum finished the regular season 6-11, and he went 5-7 (fourth) in division play. The Mustangs were to know their fate in the WPIAL playoffs last Thursday, after the deadline for this week’s edition.
Penn Hills finished 4-8 in the section, one game behind Plum, and two of the losses were for Kiski Area as Penn Hills spring teams refused to play the Cavaliers in any sport as a result of racial taunts allegedly made by fans at a college volleyball game in early March.
The Plum baseball team is once again in familiar territory as the Class 5A playoff team.
The Mustangs finished 8-4 in Section 2 and entered the playoffs 12-6 overall.
Plum was no stranger to tight, competitive baseball this season, especially in the section where seven of 12 games were decided by a run.
The Mustangs were 3-4 in those games with wins over Penn Hills, 1-0, Hampton, 2-1 and Fox Chapel, 1-0.
Plum finished one game behind Hampton (9-3) and one game ahead of Fox Chapel (7-5).
The 1-0 home win over Fox Chapel on May 9 went to extra innings.
Plum pitchers Justin Giarusso and Colin Watson combined to limit the Foxes to one hit, and the defense made no mistake.
Giarusso worked a full seven and gave up the hit walking three and striking out four on 86 pitches.
Watson came in eighth and picked up the win with a walk and strikeout.
Plum’s offense was also blocked, collecting just three hits – singles from Silvio Ionadi, Colin Solinski and Nick Lamia.
Ionadi was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the eighth and was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Brady Dojonovic before moving to third on a passed ball.
With two outs, Solinski delivered a single to center to score Ionadi with the game winner.
The Plum boys’ volleyball team hoped to play the spoiler and prevent visiting Gateway from finishing their 2-2A section roster undefeated as the teams met in the section final in Plum on May 10.
But the Gators, No. 6 in the Western PA Volleyball Coaches Association’s latest Class 2A poll, had other ideas. They won games one, three and four en route to a 3-1 win.
Plum, who honored his five seniors – Nick Capalongo, Nick Killinger, Cameron Moss, Thomas Marzina and Rocco Schneiderlochner – before the game, capped his section schedule at 5-3.
“We showed improvement,” said coach Plum Fisher Bagiatis after the game with the Gators (8-0).
“It was the first time we faced a team of this caliber in a while, so we could really see how we scaled up. Offensively, we played well. Defensively, we were a bit limited.
Plum swept through Deer Lakes and Mars and shared her season streak with Derry.
Pairings for the WPIAL Boys Volleyball Qualifiers were due to be released last Friday with a first-round match as early as Monday, past the deadline for this week’s edition.
Last year, No. 9 seed Plum outlasted No. 8 Trinity 3-2 in the first round before falling 3-0 to top seed Seton La Salle. the eventual WPIAL champion.
Michael Love is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .