Ligonier Valley earns Class 2A bronze in softball with 4-0 win over Frazier

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Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | 7:52 PM


“Mad dog” doesn’t like to hear about games being meaningless.

Even though both teams already had clinched PIAA playoff berths, Maddie Griffin, Ligonier Valley’s junior ace pitcher, treated Tuesday’s WPIAL third-place game at Norwin with respect.

The game still had the full attention of the WPIAL’s no-hit queen.

“The expectation is that no one should hit,” Griffin said. “And you want to win every game, no matter what.”

Frazier did hit, two times, in fact — the most hits Griffin has allowed in the postseason — but the Rams still posted a 4-0 shutout to take the bronze in Class 2A and momentum into the state bracket.

Ligonier Valley (19-2) will open the PIAA tournament Monday against District 10 champion Sharpsville (14-4) at a time and site to be determined.

Fourth-place Frazier (16-5), one of the few teams to get aluminum on Griffin’s arsenal of pitches, will face the WPIAL champion — Shenango (16-4) or Laurel (16-1) — in the state first round Monday.

Shenango was the team that ousted Ligonier Valley with a 3-1 win in the semifinals, albeit with no hits against Griffin, who threw her 11th no-hitter of the season. Two errors and heads-up baserunning by Shenango led to early damage against the Rams in a game played over two days because of inclement weather.

“I still feel bad about what happened,” Griffin said of the loss and its uncharacteristic nature. “I wanted to make up for it.”

With her team providing some offense in the consolation game, Griffin had a cushion. She fanned 13 but walked two and allowed a pair of baserunners.

“This win is nice because it gets us the best seeding,” Rams coach Mark Zimmerman said. “Frazier is a quality team. We tried to manufacture runs the best we could. With Maddie, if we can take a six- or seven-run lead into the fifth, we feel pretty comfortable.”

This time it was a 4-0 advantage heading to the sixth. Senior Bella Vargulish provided a run-scoring single in the first, and RBIs from Vargulish and senior Jordan Hofecker made it 3-0 in the third.

Sophomore Haley Boyd started the third-inning rally with a double off the fence.

Frazier was caught stealing to end the fourth after a rare walk by Griffin, but senior Rylee Evans connected with a double to deep center to open the Commodores’ fifth.

“We knew they could hit,” Griffin said. “I know Rylee from travel ball.”

Griffin, who quickly quelled the knock with two strikeouts and a flyout, has allowed 16 hits all season. Half of those came against Class 3A Mt. Pleasant in a nonsection loss.

“Maddie wasn’t feeling great today,” Zimmerman said. “But she was aggressive. She knows where she’s at (in the game).”

The Rams took advantage of a walk and an error in the fifth and loaded the bases. But only one run crossed on a sacrifice fly by freshman Cheyenne Piper. The run scored before the Commodores turned an 8-5 double play to end the inning.

Junior Victoria Washinski singled for Frazier to open the seventh, stole second and moved to third on a groundout. But she was left stranded when Griffin struck out sophomore Maria Felsher to end it.

Griffin helped her cause at the plate, joining Vargulish and Boyd with two hits.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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