Ligonier Valley’s Griffin throws 11th no-hitter, but Shenango prevails in Class 2A semifinals

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Thursday, May 27, 2021 | 9:27 PM


Maddie Griffin threw her 11th no-hitter of the season Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to keep Shenango from making history.

The Wildcats used heads-up baserunning to score three runs on two Ligonier Valley errors on the same play Wednesday before heavy rains forced a suspension of the game in the top of the third inning, and that was all pitcher Mia Edwards needed.

When play resumed Thursday, Edwards was sharp from start to finish and struck out a dozen batters to propel No 5 Shenango to its first WPIAL championship appearance in a 3-1 win over the top-seeded Rams in the Class 2A semifinals at Mars.

The Wildcats (16-4) will face Lawrence County rival and two-time defending champion Laurel in the 2A finals at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Cal (Pa.)’s Lilley Field.

“It almost doesn’t feel real,” Edwards said about making the championship. “At the beginning of the season, we talked about how we knew we could play with anybody and that we wanted to compete for a WPIAL championship. We kept saying we were one step closer to getting there and now to get there … it’s really just the best feeling in the world.”

Ligonier Valley (18-2) plays Frazier in the consolation game Tuesday at a site and time to be announced and have qualified for the state playoffs.

On Wednesday, Madison Iwanejko and Kamryn Robertson walked to put two runners on with two outs and Lacey Kale hit a pop-up between the pitcher’s circle and home plate that was dropped. Griffin picked up the ball and fired an errant throw to second base that sailed all the way to the fence in center field, allowing all three runners to score.

“We knew at the time that it happened and Maddie knew, too, that it was a tough play,” Rams coach Mark Zimmerman said. “She was thinking that there were two outs and that if we could get that girl at second, we were out of the inning. It was a poor throw, and she said she slipped when she was getting ready to throw it. It happens. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.”

Once play resumed, Griffin was sensational. She allowed only one baserunner from the third inning on, which was a walk to Iwanejko in the sixth. She finished with 13 strikeouts and three walks.

“I can’t say enough about Griffin,” Shenango coach Pat Quahliero said. “She’s been fantastic all year and nothing changed today or yesterday. We battled better today, and I was proud of our girls because I felt like we made her work hard. I don’t know what her other games were like, but I felt like we took her deep into counts.”

Ligonier Valley got its lone run in the third when Eden Krouse scored from second on an error by Wildcats shortstop Brianna Desalvo. The Rams had runners on second and third with one out, but Edwards, a Colgate recruit, got consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.

“That’s a D-I player for you,” Quahliero said. “Sometimes that’s the difference. It’s not always just the physical attributes. It’s the things you can’t measure.”

The Rams got the tying run to the plate in the sixth and seventh innings, but again Edwards shut the door.

There was a noticeable difference of determination for Edwards once runners reached base.

“My coaches tell me all the time that they see me really zone in knowing I don’t want to let that girl score or even get another base,” Edwards said. “I just kind of take it to another level of focus and try to keep everything tight to produce an out to keep her where she is.”

Ligonier Valley fell short of its goal of making the WPIAL championship in its first season in the district, but the Rams still have state title hopes and will turn their attention to that goal beginning with the consolation game next week.

“We still have more softball to play,” Zimmerman said. “As everybody says, when you get to states, I don’t care who you start out with. If you’re going to get to the end, you’re going to have to play everybody. So, it doesn’t matter who we start out against.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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