Natalie Ferrari was strangely quiet in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs.
Luckily for Latrobe, she made a lot of noise Thursday in Round 2.
Ferrari was 2 for 4 with two doubles, including one with the bases loaded that keyed a four-run fifth inning and helped Latrobe (20-3) to a 4-0 quarterfinal victory against Seneca Valley at Lind Field in Kennedy Township.
“I was really silent in the last game (against DuBois), and I’m glad because you can see that one-hitter just doesn’t do it,” Ferrari said. “Our whole team is hitting … and it kind of made me relax a little bit.”
Latrobe will play Garnet Valley, the fourth-seeded team from District 1, on Monday in a semifinal game at a site and time to be determined. Garnet Valley defeated District 6 champion State College yesterday, 1-0. The game will mark the first time Latrobe has advanced to the state semifinals.
Ferrari has driven in 11 of Latrobe’s 17 postseason runs, including eight in the team’s journey to its first WPIAL championship. She had three RBI the first time Latrobe played Seneca Valley, a 5-1 victory in the WPIAL title game last week at California (Pa.) University.
Seneca Valley ended its season yesterday wondering what happened to a team that finished the regular season with a .350 team batting average. The 2-through-7 hitters in Seneca Valley’s batting order finished the game 0 for 15 with six strikeouts.
“We had our opportunities, and we just couldn’t get the runs across the plate. And when you can’t score, you can’t win,” Seneca Valley coach George Trew said. “No matter what happens anywhere in the game, you have to put some runs on the board, and we knew that coming in, and we weren’t able to do that.”
Seneca Valley had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings and had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, but it failed to score each time. The Raiders finished 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, with the only hit an infield single from Dana Hughes in the fifth.
Though Seneca Valley was able to put runners on base, Latrobe had the ultimate equalizer. Junior pitcher Alexa Bryson, who allowed six hits and struck out nine batters in the WPIAL championship game, surrendered five hits and struck out 10 this time.
Every time Bryson needed a strikeout, she seemingly got one. That was especially true in the fifth.
After Seneca Valley loaded the bases, Bryson struck out Liz Dorogy on four pitches — all strikes — then got Jackie Mangola to hit a soft fly out to left to end the threat.
“It was rough because I kept thinking, ‘They’re going to get it this inning,’ but they didn’t,” Bryson said. “I knew that I’d have to bear down and there wasn’t room for a mistake, any mistake, so I really did have to focus.”
After Hughes’ hit, Seneca Valley never had another batter reach base. Bryson retired the final eight batters she faced, four by strikeouts.
“She is very good, and this year, we persevere with runners on base,” Latrobe coach Bob Kovalcin said. “They had runners on; she’s come up big pitching, but our defense has been solid with runners in scoring position. It’s been her pitching, but the defense has been great.”