Ligonier Valley moves into PIAA semifinals with rain-shortened win over Chestnut Ridge

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Thursday, June 10, 2021 | 8:19 PM


CRESSON — The record will show Ligonier Valley secured a 1-0 victory over Chestnut Ridge in the PIAA Class 2A softball quarterfinals Thursday.

That only begins to tell the story.

Rain first delayed the start of the game by 1 hour and 45 minutes. The teams then started and quickly completed five innings by about 5 p.m. In the sixth inning, the rain returned in force and caused a second delay.

PIAA officials moved the game to nearby Central Cambria High School with the hopes of playing the full seven innings, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate.

By 7 p.m., the PIAA called the game, and Ligonier Valley’s 1-0 lead became the final score.

“I’ve sat at one site for a while, sat out some long rain delays, but never when they said they were going to load you up and take you to another side,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “On the way over, everyone is looking at (the radar) on their phones. You could see it was wall-to-wall rain for the next two and a half hours.

“I understand what (the PIAA officials) were doing. It’s hard to win this way, and it’s really hard to lose this way. But if you pick it up and things aren’t right, and you lose it on a girls slipping or falling down, that isn’t right and wouldn’t be a happy ending either.”

Ligonier Valley moves into the PIAA semifinals for the first time. The Rams, now 21-2, will face District 10 runner-up Union City on Monday at a site and time to be determined.

Chestnut Ridge, the District 5 champion, caps its season at 18-7. The Lions’ 3-2 win over WPIAL runner-up Shenango in the first round Monday was their first-ever PIAA victory.

“It’s obviously tough for the girls. It hurts,” Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. “When it gets cut short, and you don’t get that final go, you wonder what could have been. You always want your chance to go down swinging, but the weather didn’t cooperate.”

Ligonier Valley junior starter Maddie Griffin was solid out of the gate. She struck out the first five batters. The sixth tried to bunt her way on, and Griffin threw her out at first to end the second.

She retired the first 13 overall with nine strikeouts before Chestnut Ridge center fielder Lauryn Calhoun doubled with one out in the bottom of the fifth.

Maya Wingard followed with a walk to put two runners on, but Griffin struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

The lone run of the game came in the top of the fourth as Bella Vargulish led off with a walk. After consecutive strikeouts by Chestnut Ridge starter Zoie Dunlap, Ruby Wallace stepped in and belted a double, scoring Vargulish.

“We came up here against one of the best pitchers in the state. I don’t know if her ball has boomerangs in there, but no one can touch her anywhere,” Lazor said. “The girls battled in there. Zoie matched her pitch for pitch. The difference came when they got a walk and a double where we got a double and then a walk. Maybe if that would’ve been flipped, but they got us.”

Dunlap finished with seven strikeouts. Cheyenne Piper (single) and Bella Schueltz (double) had two of Ligonier Valley’s three hits.

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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