After falling 3-2 to Williams Valley in the 2016 PIAA championship game, the West Greene Pioneers had redemption on their mind all season. In the rematch on Friday at Penn State University’s Beard Field, West Greene gained revenge by mounting an epic comeback en route to a 9-8 victory in the 1A finals. As a result, the Pioneers (26-1) captured their first state gold in program history.
In the early stages of play, the contest seemed destined for the same result as last year; a Vikings’ victory. District 11 champion Williams Valley, which also won the PIAA crown in 2013, notched a 7-0 lead through the first two stanzas. The Pioneers, noted for their potent offense all season, scored nine unanswered runs, though, and then fended off a seventh-inning surge by Williams Valley (20-6).
West Greene coach Bill Simms highlighted his team’s resolve in coming back, completing the ‘unfinished business’ from last year.
‘It’s just a tribute to the girls to dig down and know that they have the potential to come back. I like the way they responded,’ Simms detailed. ‘We lost one in dramatic fashion last year. When the ball rolls around, it finds a way to roll our way.’
West Greene, playing as the road team, garnered three hits and a walk in the first frame, but failed to score. McKenna Lampe opened play with an infield single, and her twin sister, Madison, appeared to blast a two-run homer. The ball sailed just foul down the left-field line, though, and Lampe subsequently flew out to center field. On the play, McKenna Lampe lost track of the ball, and was doubled off first base. After that deflating play, Madison Renner drew a walk for West Greene, and Kaitlyn Rizor and Jade Renner followed with singles. Jade Renner’s hit to center failed to plate a run, though, as Madison Renner was gunned down at home to end the threat.
In the bottom of the frame, the Vikings produced three consecutive two-out hits, including a double and a triple, to gain the 2-0 advantage.
Williams Valley extended its lead considerably in the next inning, as the Vikings racked up five runs. In the inning, the Vikings notched four hits, a hit by pitch, and took advantage of two West Greene errors. The biggest blow came courtesy of cleanup hitter Morgan Updegrove, who smacked a three-run double to left field with two outs.
Simms elected to leave pitcher Jade Renner in the game, though, and the move proved fruitful. Over the next three innings, Renner surrendered just two hits and kept the Vikings off the board.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers finally found their offensive rhythm in the third, as they scored a pair of runs. McKenna Lampe drew a one-out walk, moved to second and third on a wild pitch and a throwing error, and scored on a groundout. Later in the stanza, Madison Renner produced a double, and her pinch runner, Brianna Amos, scored on Rizor’s double.
In the next inning, West Greene trimmed its deficit to just one, as the Pioneers batted around. Lexie Mooney, Linzee Stover and Mackenzie Carpenter, the 7-8-9 hitters, all reached base, with Carpenter’s double bringing in Mooney. After a flyout, Madison Lampe delivered an infield single, and Madison Renner followed with an RBI single. After another out, Jade Renner plated two runs with a single to make it 7-6.
Two innings later, the Pioneers claimed their first lead, as they scored three times. Jade Renner started the frame with a double, and her courtesy runner scored on Mooney’s single to left. With two outs, Carpenter drew a walk to extend the inning, as did McKenna Lampe. Madison followed with the go-ahead single, and Madison Renner drew a bases-loaded free pass to extend the lead to 9-7.
The Vikings showed their resolve in the bottom of the sixth, though, as Mya Achenbach tripled to score Caitlyn Pinchorski.
In the seventh, the Pioneers were retired in order, which put the pressure on Jade Renner and the West Greene defense to seal the outcome. William Valley’s Autumn Calnon opened with a single, and moved to second on a sacrifice. After an illegal pitch was called, she moved to third base with just one out. Renner struck out Jamie Neiman, though, and then induced a groundout by Maddy Bordner to secure the title.
West Greene collected 16 hits, including four by Jade Renner, and three by Madison Lampe. Jade Renner earned the complete-game victory, surrendering 12 hits while striking out four. Stevie Unger took the loss for Williams Valley.
West Greene Pioneers : 0 – 0 – 2 – 4 – 0 – 3 – 0 = 9 16 2
Williams Valley Vikings : 2 – 5 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 0 = 8 12 1