Ligonier Valley softball hits reset button, sets sights on PIAA run

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Thursday, June 3, 2021 | 5:58 PM


Mark Zimmerman said the chip Ligonier Valley softball had resting firmly on its collective shoulder is all but gone.

“That’s been knocked off a little bit,” the veteran coach said. “That can be a good thing, too. This is the start of a new run. Now it’s all about the first team to win four more games.”

The Rams (19-2), who were seeded first in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs but were upset by No. 5 Shenango in the semifinals, are set to embark on the PIAA playoffs. Four more wins and the Rams would be state champions.

A first-year WPIAL team, the Rams made the state tournament often when they played in District 6, but they never got past the quarterfinals.

This could be the team to do it.

Fresh off a 4-0 win over Frazier in the WPIAL third-place game, the Rams are set to open the tournament Monday against Sharpsville, the District 10 champion. Times and sites have not been announced.

“It wasn’t this big, crushing thing when we lost (to Shenango),” Zimmerman said. “It wasn’t like we couldn’t get up the next morning. The girls are ready to get back to work.”

Junior star pitcher Maddie Griffin, who has thrown 11 no-hitters this season, including one in the 3-1 loss to Shenango, is aiming for an extended stay in the state postseason.

“We want to win,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who we play.”

Unless the opponent is Shenango.

Several Ligonier Valley team members referenced a potential rematch that could loom farther down the bracket.

“We want to play them again, that’s for sure,” said Griffin, who is 16-2 with 267 strikeouts and a 0.24 ERA this season. “We want to make history.”

The Rams have never won a PIAA title in any sport.

“We want to be the first,” Griffin said.

Senior Kailey Johnston said the Rams have to continue to produce offensively and indicated that they need take some of the pressure off of Griffin.

“No one is perfect,” she said. “Maddie is a great pitcher, but it’s unrealistic to think she is going to no-hit every team we play. We have to hit and continue to play strong defense behind her. There is still a lot left in our bats.”

Griffin is hitting .500, sophomore Haley Boyd .475 and Johnston .400. Griffin has 33 hits and 27 runs to lead the Rams.

“I think we were able to brush off (the semifinal loss) and put it in the back of our minds,” Johnston said. “But we want to see Shenango again. We like our chances.”

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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