Ligonier Valley’s Cheyenne Piper throws 3rd straight no-hitter in quarterfinals vs. Ellwood City

By:
Thursday, May 16, 2024 | 8:04 PM


She had just thrown her third straight no-hitter — the second in a row in the WPIAL playoffs — and Ligonier Valley senior Cheyenne Piper was just as dumbfounded as her opponents.

“I just know when I got the first out, we came together and said, OK, 20 more,” the ace for the second-seeded Rams said. “The whole team was just fired up today.”

When Piper was told she had struck out a season-high 17, including the last 11 batters in Thursday’s 1-0 WPIAL 3A quarterfinal win over No. 10 Ellwood City at Plum, the crafty right-hander’s eyes widened behind her glasses and a sly grin crawled across her face.

There was even a slight chuckle.

“That sounds stupid,” she said. “I should know that, but I don’t pay attention to that stuff. I block everything out.”

Stupid is how hitters are feeling when they step in against Piper, who is on some kind of heater. She has the Rams (15-5) in the semifinals for the first time since 2021 when she was a freshman and didn’t pitch.

Ligonier Valley will play No. 3 South Park (18-1) next week — at a date, time and site to be announced — for a spot in the finals.

South Park blanked Central Valley, 4-0.

Piper took the reins from Maddie Griffin when she was a junior and has racked up more than 500 strikeouts since.

Piper only pitched nine games as a sophomore.

“I haven’t had to say much to Cheyenne at all,” Rams coach Mark Zimmerman said. “She is hard on herself. She has that inner fire. I don’t need to say anything. Her confidence level is very high, and that is important in anything.”

Ellwood City (15-5) barely managed a foul tip against Piper, who did not issue a walk and only allowed one baserunner on a throwing error in the first inning.

The Wolverines flailed. They froze. They shook their heads while they worked from behind in the count all afternoon.

“She’s the best I’ve ever caught,” Rams junior catcher Sydnee Foust said. “This is very impressive what she is doing.”

Piper hasn’t given up a hit or a run since the Rams played Latrobe on May 7. Latrobe scored in the top of the sixth inning of the Rams’ 2-1 win. But it’s been all zeros since — 67 straight batters and a scoreless innings streak of 22.1.

Piper no-hit Indiana, 7-0, then held Keystone Oaks hitless in the first round of the playoffs, 8-0, in a perfect game.

She has 60 strikeouts in her last five games.

“It’s about the sequence,” said Piper, who mixes pitches readily with a trust in the series. “If it’s working, people are probably going to keep falling for it.”

With pitchers like Piper, often times one run is enough. The Rams scored in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by junior Natalie Bizup.

Sophomore Abigail Springer led off with an infield single, and Piper reached on an error after she bunted.

Foust sacrificed both runners over, and Bizup did the rest.

Ligonier Valley, which had nine hits, all singles, loaded the bases in the first and fifth but could not score. Sophomore pitcher Amber McQuiston was effective in limiting the Rams.

Three straight hits and an error didn’t bother the right-hander in the fifth.

“We had chances, but we couldn’t get any runs through,” Zimmerman said. “We’ll take it as we can get it.”

Freshman Marlee Miller went 3 for 3, and Bizup was 2 for 2 for the Rams. Ligonier Valley secured a berth in the PIAA playoffs with the victory.

“We said if we win this, we go to states,” Piper said. “That was a goal of ours. We treat everybody like they’re the best we have ever faced.”

Teams know the feeling.

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

Tags: ,

More High School Sports

PIAA Class 4A softball championship preview: Elizabeth Forward vs. Blue Mountain
PIAA Class 2A softball championship preview: Neshannock vs. South Williamsport
PIAA Class A baseball championship preview: Eden Christian vs. Faith Christian
PIAA Class 3A baseball championship preview: Avonworth vs. Neumann-Goretti
PIAA Class 4A baseball championship preview: Indiana vs. Holy Ghost Prep