Chartiers-Houston captures 9th WPIAL softball championship

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Friday, May 31, 2024 | 1:51 PM


The Chartiers-Houston softball team saw its goal of a WPIAL Class A championship dashed last year with a loss to eventual champion Union in the semifinals.

There was no stopping the Bucs against the Scotties this time around.

Chartiers-Houston, behind 11 hits from its potent offense and the pitching of junior standout Meadow Ferri, won its first WPIAL title since 2012 and the ninth in program history 9-5 over Union on Friday at Cal (Pa.)’s Lilley Field.

“This is great,” Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson said. “I am just really happy for the kids because they worked so hard and have been really focused all season. Union is a really tough team. We’re just super excited.

“We’ve been facing really good pitching throughout the season. Our first two rounds of the playoffs, we saw good pitching, so we felt pretty good about being able to hit.”

The teams had to wait two additional days to play the championship game. Bad weather in the area Wednesday afternoon forced WPIAL officials to postponed the game.

Chartiers-Houston (18-2) has only lost one game to a Class A team this year, a section setback to rival Carmichaels.

The Bucs defeated Carmichaels, 3-2, in the semifinals to punch their ticket to the title game.

Their only other loss came to Class 5A finalist Thomas Jefferson.

Now, Chartiers-Houston turns its attention to the PIAA tournament and a first-round game Monday with District 5 runner-up Berlin at a site in WPIAL territory.

“We already talked about that this week when we had a whole bunch of days of practice,” Alderson said.

“With the game getting rescheduled, we knew it was going to be a quick turnaround whether you win or lose. We’re going to be right back at it tomorrow and prepare for (Berlin) on Monday.”

Union, whose only loss before Friday came to WPIAL Class 2A champion Neshannock, fell to 20-2 and will now get ready to face District 9 champion DuBois Central Catholic on Monday.

“(Chartiers-Houston) was the better team today,” said Union coach Doug Fisher, whose Scotties were denied a third straight WPIAL title.

“We had some mistakes here and there and weren’t hitting the ball as well as we normally do. They were the better team and deserved to win. They were hungrier.”

Fisher said his team was humbled against Chartiers-Houston, but he’s confident it will use that feeling as motivation as it switches gears for the PIAA tournament. Union made the state finals last year before falling to District 11 champion Tri-Valley at Penn State.

Chartiers-Houston hitters came out swinging in the top of the first.

Shortstop Lauren Rush, who reached safely four times with a pair of hits and with two errors by the Union defense, singled with one out and then stole second.

She scored the first of her three runs easily when Ferri helped herself with a triple to right.

The Bucs followed with a run in the second, two in the third, and two in the fourth to lead 6-0.

Union, however, didn’t fold its tent and got on the board in the bottom of the fourth and closed the deficit to one with four more runs in the fifth.

Scotties shortstop Mallory Gorgacz drove in two runs with a single, catcher Irelyn Fisher added a run-scoring hit, and designated player Olivia Benedict doubled home the fourth run.

Fisher’s RBI was her team-leading 43rd of the season.

The Bucs responded in the top of the sixth with three runs on three hits to regain a comfortable lead.

Ferri retired seven of the final eight batters she faced with four strikeouts to help seal the win.

“This feels amazing. It’s so surreal,” Ferri said. “I couldn’t have done it without (my teammates). We support each other so much, and we work hard together.”

Ferri, who reached the 200-strikeout milestone for the season in the game, surrendered a total of six hits and walked three while striking out 11.

Because of a pair of errors, all five Union runs against Ferri were unearned.

“We fell apart a little defensively in that (fifth) inning, but Meadow pitched great,” Alderson said.

“We always expect a good performance out of her. She’s been fantastic this season.”

Union pitcher Mia Preuhs also reached a strikeout milestone. Her second of two strikeouts in the fifth inning was the 500th of her varsity career. She ended with seven strikeouts and just one walk. Of the nine Chartiers-Houston runs, six were earned.

Catcher Ella Richey and left fielder Zaylee Fonner also collected two hits for the Bucs.

Benedict and second baseman Olivia Williams each finished with a pair of hits for Union.

“(Union) is tough, and (Preuhs) is such a good pitcher,” Alderson said. “But we felt pretty prepared. I was a little surprised we scored that many, but we’ll take it.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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