Led by freshman, Union softball drops Greensburg CC to return to WPIAL finals

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 | 9:31 PM

For the third consecutive season, the Union softball team will be making a trip south for the WPIAL championship game.

Union defeated Greensburg Central Catholic, 9-2, in the Class A semifinals Tuesday at Mars to earn a spot in the finals June 1 at Cal (Pa.).

The pair of seniors on Union’s roster have known nothing but a district season ending with a chance at a medal. But while seniors Raquel Zarlingo and Emily Siddall have a third chance at WPIAL gold, it was a freshman who stole the show.

Mia Preuhs (12-1) struck out 14 batters and yielded only five hits, all singles, while walking two. The freshman also went 3 for 3 with a pair of RBIs and was a home run shy of the cycle.

“She’s just a stud,” Union coach Doug Fisher said. “I don’t sweat it too bad when I have her on the mound. She has so many weapons that if something’s not working, something else will be.”

After Preuhs retired the first three batters in order to start the game, Union’s first four batters all reached base. Zarlingo led off with a walk, followed by a Tori May single. Zarlingo scored on a wild pitch in the next at-bat, and when the throw to the plate went errant, May followed. Mallory Gorgacz later scored on a Bella Cameron groundout to finish the three-run first for Union.

“That’s why Raquel is leading off, because always sees the ball well and she causes a little havoc,” Fisher said. “She’ll go after something that somebody else couldn’t hit, and she’ll put the bat on it.”

The Scotties added two more in the third when Preuhs tripled off of the left field wall to drive in a run and scored on a Siddall single.

“She’s really stepped it up this year,” Fisher said of Siddall. “She’s worked hard. She’s been with with me here since I started, and she’s worked and worked and worked.”

After scoring single runs in the fourth and fifth, Union put up two more runs in the sixth inning on back-to-back two-out RBI doubles by Gorgacz and Preuhs.

The entire Union lineup contributed on the offensive end, with eight of the nine batters either scoring a run or driving one in. May and Preuhs were each on base four times, while Siddall chipped in with a pair of run-scoring singles.

“That’s what we were missing last year,” Fisher said of his lineup. “We had top-of-the-lineup batting. Now we’re deep. They did great, all of them.”

Emma Henry (7-3) took the loss in the circle for the Centurions. She threw six innings, giving up nine hits and nine runs, six earned. She struck out six and walked five.

“They’re a better team,” GCC coach Mike Gaffney said. “We started off a little slow with walks and a couple of errors, but take nothing away from them. Our girls battled to the very end, but take nothing away from them, they’re a very good softball team.”

Greensburg Central Catholic was held to two hits through the first six innings but collected three singles and put a pair of runs on the board in the top of the seventh. Freshman Abigail Dei hit a one-out single to drive in Emma Henry and Grace Kindel.

“We just don’t give up,” Gaffney said. “I’m happy that our girls didn’t quit. They just never gave up today, and that’s something to build on.”

It’s a quick turnaround for Greensburg Central Catholic (12-6). The Centurions will face Springdale in the Class A consolation game Thursday with a trip to the PIAA tournament on the line.

“The fact that you get to play right away is a good thing,” Gaffney said. “At this point in the season, there’s not really too much you can do because your team is your team. But we’ll be ready to go on Thursday.”

The wait will be a bit longer for Union (19-3), but the opposition will be familiar. In the finals, the Scotties will face West Greene, which defeated Springdale, 5-2, in the other semifinal Tuesday.

It will be the third straight season that the Scotties and Pioneers battle in the WPIAL championship game. West Greene the first two matchups, 11-0 in 2019 and 17-2 in 2021, and are the five-time defending district champions on the diamond. They are an opponent Fisher and his squad are ready to face.

“I would like to see West Greene again. They’ve gotten us twice,” Fisher said. “We’re ready for this next game.”

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