Neshannock caps perfect season with dominant win in state championship game

Friday, June 14, 2024 | 1:11 PM

STATE COLLEGE — In the course of winning 73 of its previous 74 games, Neshannock rarely had opponents who were able to respond to the Lancers’ big plays.

For example, entering Friday’s PIAA Class 2A softball finals, Neshannock had shut out its last five opponents.

But to finish their second undefeated state-championship season, the Lancers would have to respond to South Williamsport.

And they did. Did they ever.

Neshannock scored the last 10 runs of the game, defeating the Mountaineers, 12-2 in five innings, to cap off a 27-0 season.

The Mountaineers (24-3) had averaged eight runs a game in their earlier rounds of the state tournament, so Neshannock coach Jackie Lash knew they might be able to punch back. And they did, when the game was tied 2-2 in the middle of the third.

But the Lancers were prepared by the memory of a state semifinal loss last June, their only loss in the last three years.

“That punchback came last year,” said Lash, who won her 100th game as Neshannock’s coach. “We hit that wall, started to make some errors, and they learned that lesson last year. A lot of our conversations this year were, ‘Do you remember that bus ride home?’”

When the Lancers drove home from Penn State’s Beard Field on Friday, their clearest memory was of an eight-run rally in the fourth inning that set up the shortened victory.

The first nine batters reached base in that rally, which started with a lead-off double by Callie Biondi. After Ali Giordano reached on an error, Katherine Nativo singled to left, scoring Biondi for a 5-2 lead.

Miley Anderson walked to load the bases, and Jaidon Nogay took advantage. She doubled to center field to clear the bases and make the lead 8-2.

Addyson Frye was intentionally walked, but that didn’t slow the Lancers’ momentum. Gabby Perod doubled on the left-field line, scoring Nogay.

Then Gabby Quinn polished off the rally with a three-run home run over the left-field fence.

“Right after they changed pitchers, there’s a little pressure because you haven’t seen her before,” Quinn said. “(The pitch) was down the middle, maybe a little inside. A case of good timing.”

Frye was a part of all four of the Lancers’ first four runs, while the game was still competitive.

In the bottom of the first, Nogay singled. Frye followed with a single, and when it was misplayed in the outfield, Nogay scored the game’s first run. Quinn followed with a two-out single to score Frye for a 2-0 lead.

But then came the pushback by South Williamsport. Maddie Pinkerton walked to start the top of the third. She was sacrificed to second and scored on Gianna Goodman’s single. Alizabeth Schuler doubled to score Goodman and tie the game 2-2.

Quinn had something to say about that.

“When we went in the dugout, I told everyone that how we respond to this is how we are going to respond the rest of the game,” Quinn said. “If we score now, we know that even if they score again, we will score more.”

And that was exactly what happened. Nogay hit a one-out single, and Frye drove the ball over the left-field fence for a 4-2 lead.

“My coach said (South Williamsport starter Alizabeth Schuler) has been throwing screwballs a lot to righties,” Frye said. “I knew it was coming.”

Frye struck out seven batters for the win. She is now 67-1 in her career.


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