Neshannock shuts out Bentworth to claim 3rd straight WPIAL Class 2A softball title

Thursday, May 30, 2024 | 2:30 PM

It’s a threepeat.

Top-seeded and unbeaten Neshannock extended its run of consecutive WPIAL softball championships Thursday to three, and the Lancers again did it with stellar pitching and defense.

Addy Frye tossed a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts, Gabby Perod drove in a pair of runs, and Neshannock blanked No. 2 Bentworth, 3-0, in the Class 2A title game at Cal (Pa.).

“We’re just a solid team from top-to-bottom,” Neshannock coach Jackie Lash said.

Following the outcome, both teams turned their attention to the PIAA playoffs, where Neshannock faces District 6 runner-up West Shamokin and Bentworth meets District 5 champion Everett in first-round games Monday at sites to be determined.

“Definitely going into it to win it all. That’s our goal,” said Frye, a junior, who shrugged off two walks and two hit batters.

As a freshman in 2022, Frye led Neshannock to a 4-1 victory against District 12 winner Conwell-Egan in the PIAA Class 2A championship.

She said the team is hungry for another title after being sidelined in the 2023 state semifinals with a 9-6 loss to District 5 champion Everett, ending Neshannock’s 48-game winning streak.

It is the only loss for Neshannock (22-0) in the past 71 games, dating to 2022.

“We are very motivated to get back to the championship (game),” said Frye, who is already committed to play at Providence.

Neshannock provided its ace with an early lead and Frye settled in to record her 15th victory.

“The defense has been amazing and a big part of my pitching, because I know I can trust my pitches if I know my defense is going to field it,” Frye said.

Bentworth (17-3) tested her, though. She gave up a pair of hits to Bearcats freshman Sydney Gonglik, her mound opponent, and was backed by some spectacular plays behind her, notably Jaidon Nogay’s diving catch in center and Ali Giordano’s sterling ground ball pickup at second.

“Defense wins games, and I believe it does,” Lash said. “We really focus on the fundamentals because we say the little things are going to win big games. That shows, ultimately, whenever you do play a game like this. The girls are trained well.”

Nogay, a sophomore, agreed.

“Defense means a lot to us, obviously,” she said. “We really work hard at it,”

Nogay is the third in a line of Nogay sisters to contribute to Neshannock’s softball success. Neleh, a 2022 graduate, is a sophomore outfielder at Fordham, and Aaralyn is a freshman utility player at Bowling Green. Both were part of Neshannock’s 2022 state championship team.

Joining Frye as Division I recruits on the Lancers’ current roster are two other juniors — outfielder Miley Anderson and third baseman Gabby Quinn, who are committed to Kent State.

“Seven of my nine starters are headed to college to play,” Lash said. “Three are going to Division II schools and one to Division III.”

Neshannock scored two runs in the first on an RBI single by Perod and a Gonglik wild pitch.

Perod’s second run-scoring single in the fifth provided insurance against Bentworth and Gonglik, who gave up seven hits, three walks and a hit batter, while striking out six.

“We were ready to come into today and just play hard,” Lash said. “We knew we were facing a great pitcher. That’s all we did was hit for a week. The girls came out here and performed. That’s what we’ve been doing all year and the past couple years is just stringing hits together.”

Bentworth coach Jack Cramer seemed as impressed as possible with a losing effort. Simply put, Cramer was realistic.

“We told them before the game started, ‘You’re definitely an underdog,’ but I think they had a fine showing here today,” he said of the Bearcats. “For a young team with no seniors … Syd (Gonglik) just turned 15 two weeks ago, so I’ll keep her in my wing and watch her develop as she gets a little bit older. I think she’ll do all right.”

Neshannock, which got two hits apiece from Perod and Anderson, also won WPIAL Class 2A championships by defeating Lawrence County rival Laurel, 12-2, in 2023, and knocking off Frazier, 9-1, in 2022, the year the Lancers won a PIAA championship.

Shortly after they sealed their third WPIAL title running, Cramer gave a nod across the field to Neshannock’s celebration scene.

“It was not our time. It’s their time, and good for them,” he said. “But we’re still playing.”

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