Trinity enters the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs with a chip on its shoulder. Uniontown's pitcher enters the playoffs with broken bones in her face.
The two teams have brushed aside injuries and the disappointment of second-place finishes in their respective sections and will meet today at 4 p.m. at Hempfield in a first-round game.
No. 5 seed Trinity (15-2, 10-2) ended its eight-game winning streak and hopes of a shared section title after a 10-0 loss to South Fayette. The loss denied the Hillers a share of the Section 2 title and, after weather postponements, forces the team to ride into the playoffs on a bitter note.
"Obviously we are a little disappointed in not winning the section," Trinity coach Shawn Gray said. "The big thing I stress to them is you can't change the past. We have to take one game at a time."
That mentality has their attention focused squarely on Uniontown (10-6, 9-3). The Raiders ended the regular season with an emotion-packed game.
Moments before a game against rival Albert Gallatin, sophomore pitcher Leighlyn Guthrie was on the other side of Bailey Park leaning on a fence watching Uniontown's baseball team play Laurel Highlands. She was struck in the face with a foul ball and sent to the hospital in an ambulance, suffering two broken bones in her nose.
The injury happened just as Uniontown coach Steve Forsythe was having a pregame conference with the umpires.
"Our girls watched Leighlyn get loaded on the ambulance and then we had to go out there and play," Forsythe said.
Forsythe's daughter, junior Tia Forsythe, stepped up and asked for the ball. Dealing with a shoulder injury that will require offseason surgery, she came through with a gutsy performance, helping Uniontown outlast Albert Gallatin, 11-10.
"She carried us seven innings," Steve Forsythe said. "Her and the girls behind her, they had a couple reasons to win that night: one, because they wanted to; two, because they needed to; and third, they did it for their pitcher, Leighlyn. It was a very dramatic night."
Incredibly enough, Guthrie is scheduled to pitch tonight, and she will wear a mask.
"We are beat up but we are going," Steve Forsythe said.
Trinity has overcome a different kind of adversity this season. The Hillers have made playing from behind a habit.
"They never worry about the score," Gray said. "They always battle back. We had quite a few games where we would come out a little slow in the beginning and then pick up the pace."
Uniontown is not the only team that will take the field at Hempfield today with an emotional 11-10 win behind it.
The biggest deficit Trinity erased this season was four runs. The Hillers trailed West Allegheny, 9-5, entering the top of the seventh inning, but rallied for six runs in the inning and held on for an 11-10 win.
"They don't worry about the score during the game, just the end result," Gray said. "No matter what, I have never seen them walk into the dugout with their heads hanging low."
While Uniontown missed the playoffs last season, Trinity was a 13-3 winner against Brownsville in the WPIAL first round last year, advancing to the quarterfinals, where it fell, 9-5, to West Mifflin.
"We are looking to go and try to do better than we did last year," Gray said. "We are trying to continually improve each season. We scouted Uniontown. I know some of their players. They are a solid team. They have great pitching. Guthrie is a nice all-around player."
It will be a showdown of sophomore pitchers with Guthrie being opposed by Trinity's Paige Galentine.
"She has middle of the road speed and middle of the road movement," Gray said of his sophomore pitcher. "She is not strictly a power pitcher and not a junk-ball pitcher, she falls directly in the middle of those two. She strikes out very few, but she is not giving up the big ball. She is putting the ball in play, striking out one to four a game and getting a lot of outs in the field. We have a really great defense."