Griffin tosses perfect game as Ligonier Valley blanks Apollo-Ridge

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Monday, April 26, 2021 | 9:09 PM


The Apollo-Ridge softball team scored at least nine runs in all six of their wins this season, including 11 each in convincing Section 2-2A victories last week over Serra Catholic and Seton LaSalle.

But the Vikings had no answer Monday for Ligonier Valley standout junior pitcher Maddie Griffin in a battle for first in the section.

Griffin tossed a perfect game with 16 strikeouts — it was her fifth game allowing no hits this season — as the Rams remained undefeated in section play with an 8-0 victory at Donaldson Field

“I hadn’t faced them before, and I was unfamiliar with their hitters, but my game plan is the same every game: throw them wide until they prove they can hit it,” said Griffin, who threw 84 pitches, 63 for strikes.

“There were a few things from the Mt. Pleasant game that I went in and fixed yesterday (in practice). I felt pretty good out there. With my teammates behind me, it loosens up the game, and I am able to relax and throw hard.”

As the final out was recorded — a pop-up by Bailey Zidek to Rams shortstop Haley Boyd — there wasn’t a wild celebration. It has become more common than not this season for Griffin to hold a team without a hit.

“Maddie hit her spots very well, and she is throwing the ball loose and throwing hard,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “Apollo-Ridge did a nice job of standing in there and battling. They put some balls in play and worked the counts a little bit. But Maddie is just tough to hit, and she showed that again today.”

Ligonier Valley improved to 10-1 overall and 8-0 in section play. The Rams bounced back from Friday’s 3-1 nonsection loss to Class 3A Mt. Pleasant.

Apollo-Ridge fell to 6-2-1 overall and 6-2 in the section. It had won six straight before Monday’s setback.

The Rams and Vikings will do battle again May 8 at Apollo-Ridge.

Apollo-Ridge managed just two balls out of the infield. Cam Kowalczyk flew out to center to lead off the top of the fourth. Two batters later, Zidek flew out to right to end the frame.

Zidek sent a Griffin offering to left in the bottom of the first that bounced off the fence. However, the ball hit a couple of feet foul. Two pitches later, Zidek struck out.

Griffin struck out the first eight batters she faced.

“Maddie Griffin is one of the best pitchers I’ve seen at this level, if not the best,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Kinnamon said. “She has good speed and good control of multiple pitches. That being said, we just didn’t hit the ball well. We had been hitting the ball really well all season long. We just didn’t do that today.”

Ligonier Valley used station-to-station softball to score its first run in the bottom of the first.

Boyd drew a walk, went to second on a walk by Kailey Johnston, moved to third on an infield single from Bella Vargulish and scored on a passed ball.

The Rams collected nine hits off Apollo-Ridge starter Casey Weightman. Griffin helped her cause with a two-out, two-run double in the second.

Cheyenne Piper singled home a run in the fifth, and Johnson plated two runs with a triple in the bottom of the sixth.

Weightman finished with five strikeouts, and she walked four. Six of the eight runs were earned.

“Casey pitched well,” John Kinnamon said. “We should’ve played a little better defense behind her, and we talked about that.”

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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