Armstrong softball comes up short in PIAA Class 5A championship

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Friday, June 18, 2021 | 7:00 PM


UNIVERSITY PARK — Armstrong’s bid to win its first PIAA team championship in any sport was denied by a veteran Lampeter Strasburg team.

The District 3 champions from near Lancaster used a five-run fifth inning to rally from a four-run deficit for a 10-7 victory Friday in the PIAA Class 5A title game at Penn State’s Beard Field.

It was the fourth appearance in the finals for the Pioneers, who won their first title in 2018 by beating West Allegheny. The Pioneers fell to Yough in 2016 and Penn-Trafford in 2019.

It was the first appearance for Armstrong (18-6) in the PIAA playoffs, but with only one senior in the starting lineup, this might not be its last appearance.

“When we got down 4-0, it bothered me more than the players,” Lampeter Strasburg coach Gene Charles said. “The players were confident we could come back. Getting those two runs in the second inning gave us a lift.”

In the deciding fifth, Lampeter Strasburg got a two-run double from Sydney Weichler for a 7-6 lead. The Pioneers then got an RBI hit from Daisy Frank and a two-run homer from Emily Meek for a 10-6 lead.

Emma Paul drove in her fourth run of the game for the River Hawks in the sixth inning, but they couldn’t muster any more runs.

“That’s the best hitting team we faced this season,” Charles said. “I told their coach that I expect to see them back here.”

Armstrong jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Cassidy Adams started things with a single. Emily Kilgore doubled, and Cameryn Sprankle walked to load the bases.

Adams scored on a wild pitch, pinch runner Maggie Cypher scored on a fielder’s choice and Paul singled home a pair.

“Give them credit, they hit the ball,” Armstrong coach Doug Flanders said. “That’s a real good team, but we’re a really good team, too. We just came up short.”

Lampeter Strasburg got two runs back in the bottom of the second inning on a two-run double by Chloe Blantz and then took a 5-4 lead in the third by scoring three runs.

Pitcher Kelva Middleton started the rally with a one-out home run. That was followed by three consecutive singles that produced two more runs. Collecting RBIs were Ally Raub (single) and Julia Gerard (sacrifice fly).

Armstrong reclaimed the lead, 6-5, in the top of the fourth inning when Emma Smerick singled, stole second and scored from second on a sacrifice fly by Paul. Mackenzie Egley then smashed a home run over the left-field fence for the lead.

Paul had three hits, and Egley and Kilgore two hits apiece.

“It was tough getting here, but I hope we come back the next few years,” Paul said. “I’m not surprised we made it here. We had good chemistry from the first practice. No one was intimidated even though it’s a big stage. We came up a little short.”

Raub had three of the 13 hits for the Pioneers (27-1).

“Our future is definitely bright,” Flanders said. “It doesn’t sit with me because you never know when you’ll get another opportunity.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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