Firefighter parade greets state champion Penn-Trafford softball team
Saturday, June 15, 2019 | 7:46 PM
As the Penn-Trafford girls softball team returned home Friday night after winning their first PIAA title, they were greeted with flashing red lights and sirens as they approached Westmoreland Country Club.
There is nothing like waking up the neighborhood at 11 p.m. with the commotion as they drove to the school through Penn Township and Harrison City.
“The players got pumped up and excited when they saw 12 firetrucks greeting them,” Penn-Trafford assistant coach Rich Ginther said. “It was pretty neat.”
After defeating Lampeter- Strasburg, the 2018 PIAA Class 5A champions, 5-3, the team was treated with a dinner at a State College eatery and ice cream at Penn State’s creamery.
During its run to the title game, Penn-Trafford (24-2) knocked off District 6 champion Central Mountain, WPIAL champion West Allegheny and 2017 PIAA champion Donegal.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “Honestly, I thought we should have won it three years ago. But it was this team that got it done. The others came up short.”
This team got it done because it had the perfect mix of solid pitching, excellent defense and power hitting, which set a team-record for home runs.
Senior first baseman Emma Armstrong had a great championship game with a two-run double and a solo home run, her eighth of the season.
Four seniors — Armstrong, second baseman Madison Forsythe, shortstop Morgan Nedley and catcher Carlee Lamacz — led the Warriors.
Penn-Trafford came up short in winning its first WPIAL title, losing to Connellsville in the semifinals. But the Warriors came back to win the bigger prize.
“Winning the state title feels a lot better,” Armstrong said. “Winning erases the feeling we had losing in the WPIALs.”
Freshman pitcher Mia Smith picked up another save in the state final, retiring the eight batters she faced even though she was nervous.
“I’m still nervous,” Smith said. “This is an unbelievable feeling. I still can’t believe it.”
Penn-Trafford jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Armstrong’s double off the left-field fence. The Warriors never trailed even though Lampeter-Strasburg rallied.
Armstrong’s long home run kept the momentum on Penn-Trafford’s side and after Lampeter-Strasburg got two runners on in the fifth, Smith, with the aid of a great running catch by right fielder Emma Little, took command.
Little said she wasn’t worried about crashing into the outfield fence. She turned and made the grab as she reached the warning track.
So now that Penn-Trafford has won once, is the sophomore thinking about another title?
“Not really,” Emma Little said. “We’ll get back to work. I’m not going home. I’m staying here and playing in another tournament.”
Ginther said all the players were playing in tournaments Saturday. He said he got a call that Bailey Perrin, a junior outfielder for Penn-Trafford, hit a winning home run.
“It was a great run,” Ginther said. “But it’s not over. It’s just beginning.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .