Cheyenne Piper steps seamlessly into ace role for Ligonier Valley

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Cheyenne Piper understands the assignment because she has prepared for it. She has longed to fulfill it.

The top pitching role at Ligonier Valley now belongs to her, and the steely junior behind the glasses could not be more focused.

“It motivated me to keep working,” Piper said of taking over for one of the Rams’ all-time greats, Maddie Griffin, who moved on to pitch at Youngstown State. “I learned a lot last year. I knew my time was coming up.”

Piper is battled tested and confident. Remember, she tossed a perfect game last year when the Rams blanked Punxsutawney, 7-0. She fanned fanned 15 and did not walk anyone as she set down all 21 hitters.

Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman gladly handed “Pipe” the game ball.

“We knew she would be ready,” Zimmerman said. “I had no reservations about her stepping in there. She filled in well last year for Maddie.”

Piper is 3-1 and has allowed just seven hits in 31 innings, with 51 Ks, for the Rams (3-1).

Opponents have marveled at Piper’s movement on her pitches. Her curve and rise balls spin fiercely on their way to the plate.

And she is consistently throwing in the 62-64 mph range.

“It’s her spin and location,” Southmoreland junior slugger Amarah McCutcheon said. “That is what makes her so tough.”

McCutcheon finally solved Piper last week and ruined one of the ace’s best performances.

Piper had struck out a career-high 20 when McCutcheon finally connected on an 0-2 pitch and sent it over the fence. The two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the Scotties a 2-0 win in the Section 3 opener.

“I will learn from that,” Piper said. “I am going to keep doing what I know I can do.”

The overpowering effort by Piper, who did not walk a batter, was Maddie Griffin-esque.

“It was a great game for her,” Zimmerman said. “Everything was jumping off her hand. She worked the outside well. (Southmoreland) has a lot of good hitters.”

Piper struck out 11, surrendered two hits, and did not walk a better in a 1-0 win over Yough in eight innings.

She fanned eight more in a two-hit shutout of big-hitting Belle Vernon, 2-0.

Ligonier Valley moved up one classification to 3A this season. Piper couldn’t wait to go against fresh competition.

“Going up to 3A, against these new teams,” Piper said. “It was like a blank canvas.”

And she is painting the corners with an artist’s touch.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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