2022 PIAA Class 5A softball championship preview: Armstrong vs. Pittston Area

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 | 11:01 AM

PIAA Class 5A softball championship

Pittston Area (24-0) vs. Armstrong (23-4)

2:30 p.m. Thursday at Beard Field, Penn State

Path to Penn State

Pittston Area – The District 2 champion Patriots have been a juggernaut all season, going 24-0 and outscoring opponents 239-28. They rolled through the state playoffs, beating South Western, 13-0, Lampeter-Strasburg, 3-2, and Oxford, 8-4. Pittston Area hit four home runs against Oxford.

Armstrong The River Hawks may not be undefeated like Pittston Area, but they’ve scored even more runs, outscoring their opponents 290-107 in 27 games this season. In the state playoffs, they defeated Chartiers Valley, 13-6, Central Mountain, 13-5, and Penn-Trafford, 3-2, in a rematch of the WPIAL championship game.

Secret to their success

Pittston Area – Gianna Adams is a dominant pitcher, going 20-0 with a 0.93 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 121 innings this season. She is backed by a deep, dangerous lineup. C Tori Para is hitting .529 with nine home runs and 41 RBIs in 24 games. OF Kallie Booth leads the team with a .553 batting average. C Sage Weidlich is hitting .500 with six homers, six doubles and six triples.

Armstrong – There are no holes in the River Hawks lineup. RF Emma Smerick, at the top of the order, is 8 for 11 in the state playoffs. LF Jenna Clontz, who hit the game-winning walk-off homer in the WPIAL finals, is 5 for 12 with a homer in PIAA play. DH Shelby Cloak is 5 for 9 and 1B Jessie Pugh is 4 for 9.

Championship factoids

Pittston Area – This is the first state championship game appearance for Pittston Area in any team sport in school history. The Patriots advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019. The school’s most famous alumni are former Penn State and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo and Charley Trippi, the NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick in 1945 by the Chicago Cardinals and the oldest living member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Armstrong – The River Hawks are making their second straight appearance in the PIAA finals. Last year, Armstrong scored a total of 32 runs in three PIAA wins before falling 10-7 to Lampeter-Strasburg in the championship game.

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at jbombulie@triblive.com.


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