Note – DCC/West Greene Preview and Game Predictions will be posted Sunday night
By Chris Rossetti
WEXFORD, Pa. – From the earliest days of the season in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday afternoon has been what the Moniteau Lady Warriors softball team has been playing for.
(Cover photo of Moniteau celebrating it’s District 9 championship by Mike Schnelle. Click here for more of Schnelle’s work or to purchase photos).
At 4 p.m. Monday at North Allegheny High School in Wexford (see directions), Moniteau could very well be 21 outs away from University Park, Pa., and the PIAA Class AA title game, which will be played Thursday at Penn State.
But standing in the way of the Lady Warriors (23-1) is a determined South Park squad that would like nothing more than to win a PIAA title after the WPIAL crown eluded the Lady Eagles (16-4) a couple of weeks ago in a 10-0, five-inning loss to Ellwood City.
That would be the same Ellwood City team Moniteau dispatched 11-0 in six innings in the quarterfinals Thursday at Slippery Rock University.
But don’t let the two scores fool you into thinking this is a coronation for the Lady Warriors.
After all, South Park topped Philipsburg-Osceola 16-12 in its quarterfinal game, also Thursday. That would be the same Philipsburg-Osceola team that handed Moniteau its lone loss of the season, 5-4, back on April 30.
That loss was the last time Moniteau was scored upon. Since then, the Lady Warriors have watched junior pitcher Kennedy DeMatteis deliver 10 consecutive shutouts.
It’s not like Moniteau’s offense needed DeMatteis to be perfect – it has scored 107 runs in this 10 games – but perfect she has been, nevertheless, allowing just seven hits in that span while tossing four no-hitters and five one-hitters. Only Cranberry, which managed two hits off her in a 4-0 District 9 championship-game loss, has managed multiple hits off DeMatteis.
On the year, DeMatteis, who along with her twin sister and catcher, Kristina, are key cogs in the Lady Warriors lineup as well, is 22-1 with a 0.75 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP. She has nearly walked as many batters (41) as she has given up hits (42) while tossing six no-hitters and striking out 227, which comes out to 1.74 batters per inning.
Playoff competition hasn’t slowed DeMatteis down. In four postseason games – two in District 9 and two in the PIAA bracket – she has given up five hits while walking eight and striking out 44 in 26 innings of work.
Moniteau’s offense has been strong throughout the season, and even in the playoffs a “slowdown” meant the Lady Warriors had a two-game stretch where they “only” scored 10 runs in two games before erupting for 11 in the win over Ellwood City.
The offense, which is hitting .484 as a team with a 1.223 OPS, is paced by the DeMatteis twins as well as Cortney Claypoole, Gabby Stewart and Sara Hull.
Stewart is the team’s top hitter average wise coming in at .652 with 10 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. She has also stolen 27 bases in 29 tries, no surprise considering she was the James Manners Award winner as the best female athlete at this year’s District 9 Track and Field Championships.
Claypoole brings the power with a team-leading six home runs and 23 extra-base hits – 11 of them doubles. She is hitting .603 with 50 RBIs. Claypoole can also run and has 17 stolen bases in 18 attempts.
Kennedy DeMatteis (.586, 12 doubles ,3 triples, 3 home runs, 47 RBIs) and Kristina DeMatteis (.550, 12 doubles, 1 triples, 1 home run, 26 RBIs) both went deep in the quarterfinal win over Ellwood City, while Hull checks in at an even .500 with two homers, eight doubles, a triple and 33 RBIs.
Alazia Greaves is yet another speed threat for Moniteau, which has stolen 100 bases in 106 attempts on the year, with 16 swipes in 17 attempts.
South Park has shown an ability to mash the ball at times, especially in the postseason where, despite the shutout in the WPIAL title game, the Lady Eagles are averaging 10.5 runs per game (12.6 when you take out the shutout loss). That includes South Park putting up 32 runs in a pair of PIAA wins as they also beat Northwestern 16-4 in five innings in the first-round of the PIAA Tournament.
The South Park offense should come as no surprise considering the Lady Eagles have four – yes four – Division 1 recruits on the squad including a pair of seniors – Breanna Nugent, who is headed to St. Francis (Pa.) and Katie Isenberg, who is going to Robert Morris. A pair of underclassmen have also made Division 1 commitments early in their careers with Katlyn Pavlick, a sophomore, saying she is going to Pitt and freshman Kaitlyn Morrison, tentatively headed to Penn State.
Going into the WPIAL title game, Nugent was hitting .500 with six home runs and 26 RBIs, Isenberg was batting .592 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs, Pavlick was hitting .594 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs and Morrison was coming in at .370 with 19 RBIs.
Those four have been particularly dominant in two PIAA playoff games combining to go 21 of 35 (.600) with two home runs – both by Pavlick – four doubles, two triples, 18 runs scored and 14 RBIs.
Morrison is 7 of 10 with six runs, three doubles and three RBIs, Pavlick is 5 of 8 with the two homes, a double, four RBIs and six runs scored, Isenberg is 5-for-8 with five RBIs, four runs scored, a triple and a double and Nugent is 4 of 9 with four runs scored, a triple and two RBIs.
Justine Dean has also been solid most of the season for South Park in the circle with an ERA right around 1.00. But Dean and the Lady Eagles have been hurt by some bad defense.
South Park committed three errors in the WPIAL title-game loss to Ellwood City then had another error in the first-round win over Northwestern before committing seven more in the win over Philipsburg-Osceola, a game that saw the Lady Eagles trailing 11-2 after 2 ½ innings only to rally in part because P-O committed five errors itself.
Dean allowed 12 runs in the win on 10 hits, six walks and three hit batters while striking out six, and she has given up 26 runs in her last three outings.
While South Park’s defense has been shaky, Moniteau’s has been solid all season to a tune of .923 fielding percentage. The Lady Warriors haven’t committed an error since May 10 against Keystone, a span of seven games.
- The winner will take on the winner of the other semifinal game being played at 5 p.m. Monday at Patriots Park in Allentown between District 2 champion and defending PIAA champ Holy Redeemer and District champion Pine Grove. The PIAA Class AA title game is set for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Nittany Lion Softball Park on the campus of Penn State. (See the Class AA bracket).
- A team from the western half of the state hasn’t won a PIAA Class AA softball crown since Neshannock took home the 2012 title.
- The game is the first game of a doubleheader with another District 9 team, DuBois Central Catholic, taking on WPIAL champion West Greene, in the Class A semifinals.
- Moniteau is a young team grade wise but experienced team playing-wise with only two seniors – Courtney Sowinski and Alyssa Dailey – in the starting lineup but a ton of junior starters who have made up the core of the team for three years.
- Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $4 for students. That is $2 more than in the first two rounds for adults and $1 more for students. One ticket should be good for both games of the doubleheader.
- (Note correction) The home team will be determined by a coin flip. (A previous version of this story said South Park would be the home team based on being at the bottom of the bracket). The winner of the game will be the home team in the state title game Thursday based on being at the bottom of the bracket per a PIAA memorandum.
- MSA Sports will be broadcasting the game. A link to the broadcast can be found here.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
(7-2) South Park (16-4)
No. Player Pos.
18 Breanna Nugent CF
21 Kaitlin Morrison SS
27 Katlyn Pavlick 3B
10 Katie Isenberg C
6 Justine Dean P
55 Angela Shine 1B
5 Cassie Scanlon 2B
39 Laura Shinavski RF
43 Jessica Dean LF
Manager: Larry Mercurio
9-1 Moniteau (23-1)
No. Player Pos.
21 Gabby Stewart RF
24 Cortney Claypoole SS
2 Kennedy DeMatteis P
5 Kristina DeMatteis C
55 Sara Hull 3B
22 Megan Hepler 1B
29 Alyssa Dailey 2B
1 Courtney Sowinski LF
11 Alazia Greaves CF
Manager: Dan Beebe