Historic year for Union girls ends with loss to Tri-Valley in PIAA softball championship game

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Friday, June 16, 2023 | 2:56 PM


UNIVERSITY PARK – A historic softball season — and a historic year for Union girls athletics in general — came to an end Friday afternoon as the Scotties lost the PIAA Class A softball championship game to Tri Valley, 6-3, at Penn State’s Beard Field.

The Scotties (20-4) were appearing in their first state championship softball game, three months after some of the same players received gold medals for the school’s first PIAA girls basketball championship.

One of those players who was seeking a second gold medal was right-handed pitcher Mia Preuhs, who struck out nine but walked eight and hit two batters. The sophomore allowed just five hits but two of them were extra-base knocks when the winning rally for Tri-Valley (24-2) took place.

The first three batters for Tri-Valley came around to score in that sixth inning. Cassidy Snyder reached base on an infield error. Grace Header put the Bulldogs up 4-3 by doubling her in with a hit to left-center. Brittany Rice followed with a deeper hit to left-center, a two-run homer that put the District 11 champs up 6-3.

“We only brought the bats here,” Union coach Doug Fisher said. “You’ve got to bring your whole game here. But that changeup that went over the fence, that’s on me because that was my call.”

Union did get the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh. Freshman leadoff hitter Olivia Williams picked up her fourth single in four at-bats. After Tri-Valley pitcher Emma Maurer got Allie Ross to pop up, Addie Nogay walked.

Preuhs, who already had a homer in the game, hit a rope to left field, but it was snared by Mia Artz.

“I thought when she got to bat the last time, she might have got another (homer),” Fisher said.

Maurer recorded a strikeout to end the contest and give the Bulldogs their second state title in three years.

Preuhs had a tough opening inning, allowing just one hit but two runs after she walked four batters and hit another. Leadoff batter Gianna Poletti got one of those walks, but on the next pitch, was thrown out by catcher Bella Cameron with shortstop Mallory Gorgacz applying the tag. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs scored on an RBI single by Rice and a bases-loaded walk by Maddy Schwalm.

“I was really nervous coming into the game,” Preuhs said. “The first-inning jitters, you’ve got to get them out because you can’t pitch around them.”

Not that being down was anything new to the Scotties, who trailed in the WPIAL final and all three previous PIAA games before rallying to victory. Though they did not win on Friday, the Scotties did even the score 3-3 midway through the contest.

The Scotties got on the board in the top of the second when Tori May led off with a single to right, moved to third with some alert baserunning on Cameron’s infield single and scored on Olivia Williams’ hit to left center.

Tri-Valley answered with another run in the bottom of the second, again benefiting from free passes. Olivia Lupole was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Snyder singled her in for a 3-1 Bulldog lead.

Facing a two-run deficit early, Preuhs took care of one of those runs on her own, slamming a 1-2 pitch down the left field line for a solo home run over the 200-foot sign in the top of the third.

“It was a good feeling that we got that extra run,” Preuhs said.

Union tied the game 3-3 with another run in the top of the fourth. May again started this rally, this time with a walk, and again moved to third on a Cameron single. Completing the symmetry with the second inning, Williams singled in May with the tying run.

Maurer had 11 strikeouts and four walks. She allowed eight hits.

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