West Xtra: Victorious run closes for Montour seniors
Montour teammates celebrate their win against Elizabeth Forward in the WPIAL Class AAA championship in May.
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As freshmen, the Montour High School Class of 2012 softball players hardly provided a preview of what was to come.
With multiple freshmen contributing in 2009, Montour went 6-11 and missed qualifying for postseason play.
Fast forward three years and members of the Class of 2012 wrap up their high school softball careers as one of the most successful classes in program history.
The run came to an end on Monday in the PIAA Class AAA semifinals as the Spartans fell to Big Spring, 5-0. Big Spring, located in Newville, Cumberland County, was the third-place team out of District 3.
Along the way the senior class piled up 57 wins, two WPIAL championships and two trips to the PIAA semifinals.
"We always believed, ever since 2010, we have the capabilities to do what we are doing," Montour coach Bill Wills said.
What Montour was doing was winning three consecutive outright section titles. As sophomores, the current Spartans seniors shut out all of its WPIAL postseason competition on the way to its first WPIAL championship. As juniors, they dealt with injuries but still reached the WPIAL semifinals.
And as seniors the Spartans finished 19-6 and earned another WPIAL crown while outscoring its WPIAL postseason competition, 34-6.
In the PIAA playoffs Montour defeated Punxsutawney and Greensburg Salem by the same margin, 4-1, before losing to Big Spring on Monday.
Senior pitcher Kaitlyn Kutchman, senior first baseman Tori Roman, senior third baseman Allison Hryadil, junior shortstop Stacey Capp and junior center fielder Alyssa McMurtrie were starters on both the 2010 and 2012 WPIAL championship teams and both of those reached the PIAA semifinals.
The team grew by leaps and bounds from the 2010 to 2012 season.
"Between 2010 and this year, the girls got another 100 or so games under their belts," Wills said. "From high school and travel ball, that experience was huge for a team and a coach. These girls were dedicated."
The 2011 season was a disappointment. Montour ran into Yough's dominating pitcher, Nicole Sleith, in the WPIAL semifinals. Montour led through the first five innings before falling to Yough, 3-2, and its season ended after losing the WPIAL consolation game, 5-2, to eventual PIAA champion Valley.
"We definitely thought we would do a lot better than we did last year," Wills said. "We were shut down by the girl from Yough and that took the wind out of our sails -- we never recovered."
This season a healthy Kutchman played more like "Clutch Man" during the postseason. She tossed a complete game, six-hitter with six strikeouts in the PIAA quarterfinals and went 3 for 3 at the plate to lead Montour over Greensburg Salem, 4-1.
In the PIAA semifinal loss Kutchman struck out 11 and led her team at the plate with two of the Spartans' three hits.
"Kaitlyn has been leading us for the last three years," Wills said. "This lineup was solid from top to bottom, everyone can hit, they can bunt, and they can steal [bases]."
Sophomore catcher Malory Gerst hit a solo home run in the win against Greensburg Salem. It was Gerst who kept the season alive with a seventh-inning two-run home run in the WPIAL semifinals with her team down, 2-0, to Belle Vernon Area. The Spartans would go on to win that game, 3-2.
"We were only a couple girls different from the 2010 run," Wills said. "They knew what to expect. They were confident and excited."
First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 am