After persevering through suspended game, Ligonier Valley softball team focused on PIAA semis

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Saturday, June 12, 2021 | 6:22 PM


After a delay of 1 hour, 45 minutes, the Ligonier Valley softball team began Thursday’s PIAA Class 2A quarterfinal against District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge at Mt. Aloysius College.

Through five innings, the Rams held a 1-0 lead.

Then, in the sixth, the rain returned, and the game was delayed again. PIAA officials were determined to get the game completed, so they moved the teams to nearby Central Cambria High School to continue on the facility’s new artificial turf field.

“We knew we might be sitting for a while because everyone was looking at their phones, and you could see that rain was backed up for a good while,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “I told the girls they might as well get comfortable, and they did. But they stayed focused and were mentally ready to play if they restarted the game.”

But two hours into the second delay, the game was called, reverting back to five complete innings.

“I am happy with the girls and the way they handled everything (Thursday),” Zimmerman said.

Ligonier Valley (21-2) now is focused on Monday’s semifinals matchup with District 10 runner-up Union City (20-1). The Rams’ first state semifinal game in school history will be at Slippery Rock at 2:30 p.m.

“Everyone is super excited to keep going. We can’t take this opportunity for granted knowing that we’re in a position that no other team (in program history) has been in,” Rams junior pitching standout Maddie Griffin said.

Union City, after losing to Sharpsville in the District 10 title game, took out a pair of district champions — District 9’s Moniteau and the WPIAL’s Laurel — in the first two rounds of the PIAA tournament.

Before topping Chestnut Ridge, the District 5 champion, the Rams scored a 3-2 first-round triumph against Sharpsville behind a three-hitter — with nine strikeouts — from Griffin

Griffin was untouchable out of the gate against Chestnut Ridge as she retired the first 13 batters. Nine of those came by strikeout. The Lions utilized four bunts in trying and reach first, but all four were retired by Griffin and the Rams defense.

Griffin lost her perfect game with one out in the fifth, and she walked the next batter. But she struck out the next two hitters to end the threat and preserve a 1-0 lead generated off the bat of Ruby Wallace.

Wallace produced some two-out magic in the fourth as she doubled home Bella Vergulish, who walked to lead off the inning.

“Thank God for Ruby. If not for her, we might still be playing that game,” Griffin said Friday afternoon, surmising PIAA officials would have brought the teams back together Friday to complete the game had it been scoreless at the time of suspension.

“It felt so good to get that hit,” Wallace said. “As soon as our team gets one hit, it can get the rest of the bats going. We were facing a great pitcher, and we knew that Maddie was going to be on her game.

“Our team has such good chemistry which keeps us playing well on the field and keeps us focused off the field. We all just wanted to get that game started and get that win. We were just patient to get on the field.”

Thursday’s shutout was Ligonier Valley’s fourth of the postseason and 17th overall.

Zimmerman said he is looking forward to the challenge his team will face Monday.

“We’re going to find out a little bit on Union City, but we definitely will spend more time focusing on ourselves,” Zimmerman said Friday before his team gathered for practice.

“There’s nothing we can do about (Union City). Whether the team has hit 40 home runs or not, that doesn’t matter. We’re going to try to get them out. The only team we can control is ours, and we have enough to keep us busy right now.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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