Ligonier Valley’s historic run continues after beating Union City in PIAA Class 2A semifinal

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Monday, June 14, 2021 | 8:58 PM


SLIPPERY ROCK – No no-hitter. No shutout. No problem.

It was just another Ligonier Valley softball victory behind another strong pitching performance from Maddie Griffin.

The junior allowed two hits, including her second home run of the season, but the Rams’ offense pounded out 12 hits in a 6-1 victory against Union City on Monday in a PIAA Class AA semifinal at Slippery Rock University.

The Rams (22-2) advance to the state finals for the first time and will play Line Mountain, which defeated Williams Valley, at 11 a.m. Thursday at Penn State. The Beavers (20-2) saw their magical season end.

Griffin didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning, a bloop single to left field by Emylee Zielinski, and the only run came in seventh inning when Union City senior Sydney Gilbert homered. Griffin walked three and struck out 12.

She retired the first 12 batters she faced and, after allowing the home run and a walk, struck out the final three batters.

“I’m a perfectionist, so I know I can pitch better,” Griffin said. “They were a good hitting team, but our offense came through. It took the pressure off me.”

Ligonier Valley took a 3-0 lead in the third inning when catcher Eden Krouse reached on a crazy double in which the ball spun away from a couple of infielders. Griffin reached on an error to move Krouse to third, and after Griffin swiped second, Kailey Johnston drove a single to center for a 2-0 lead. She came around to score on Jordan Hofecker’s hit.

“That was my thought process,” Johnston said. “It was my goal. Maddie was doing really good in the circle, and we needed to get her the lead. I shortened up my swing and got it through the infield.”

The Rams increased its lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning when Ruby Wallace scored on consecutive sacrifices by Bella Schueltz and Krouse (RBI). Griffin then singled and came around to score on Haley Boyd’s hit.

In the seventh inning, Bella Varbulish singled and scored on Wallace’s second double of the game.

“We battled to the end,” Union City coach Jerry Van Zandt said. “Their pitcher was good and had us chasing.”

Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said Griffin did a good job getting them to chase.

“We didn’t know much about them,” Zimmerman said. “They had a good pitcher and some good hitters. We just did what we do the best.

“The offense has been coming on late in the season. If we have to manufacture runs, we do it. I had a lot of confidence that Kailey would come through for us, and she did.”

Johnston had two hits and three RBIs. Wallace had two doubles, Griffin had two hits and Cheyenne Piper doubled.

“This is amazing being the first girls team in Ligonier Valley history to play in the finals,” Griffin said.

The Laurel Valley boys basketball team played in the state finals in the late 1960s. Laurel Valley consolidated with Ligonier Valley in 2010.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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