Penn-Trafford seniors lead team to 1st PIAA championship game

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019 | 8:42 PM


Penn-Trafford’s historic softball season will continue Friday when the Warriors battle Lampeter-Strasburg for the PIAA Class 5A championship.

This is Penn-Trafford’s (22-2) first trip to the state finals. The Warriors reached the WPIAL playoffs the previous two seasons, but each year they were knocked out in the first round.

And while the 2019 team didn’t win the WPIAL title after being ranked No. 1, the Warriors have rebounded in the PIAA playoffs.

The run started at Penn State’s Beard Field, the site of the state championship game, with a thumping of Central Mountain (13-5). Then the Warriors got their shot at WPIAL champion West Allegheny and rolled to a 6-2 victory.

Then on Tuesday, Penn-Trafford held on for a 5-4 victory against Donegal, the District 3 runner-up. Lampeter-Strasburg (28-1) is the District 3 third-place team. The Pioneers defeated District 3 champion Twin Valley, 9-3, in the quarterfinals.

Lampeter-Strasburg is the returning 5A state champion. The Pioneers have scored in double figures in 19 of 29 games.

“Rich (Ginther, assistant coach) and I have been coaching these girls for 10 years,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “Rich and I were talking last (Tuesday) night, and he said, ‘This is a long time coming. Let’s go get it.’ I agreed.

“I’m doing my intel now. We did play travel ball against them last season, so we know a little about them.”

Little isn’t surprised his team has done so well. He knew it had the talent, but it wasn’t until this season the team broke through the wall.

“They kicked in the door,” Little said. “This is a team that plays as a unit. Everyone on this squad has stepped up this season.

“It starts with the four seniors (Madison Forsythe, Emma Armstrong, Morgan Nedley and Carlee Lamacz). They might not be leaders as individuals, but as a group, the four together make one strong leader. They aren’t vocal leaders. They lead by example.”

Forsythe and Armstrong are the top two batters in the order, and they set up the offense for Nedley, Brooke Cleland and Emma Little.

Forsythe and Armstrong got on base against Donegal on Tuesday and scored on Nedley’s bunt single. Later in the game it was Armstrong’s single that drove in the winning runs.

“Morgan did her job,” Lamacz said. “Coach always talks about doing your job.”

Penn-Trafford needed a gutsy performance from pitcher Morgan Hilty. Despite allowing 11 hits, including three consecutive singles to load the bases in the fifth, Hilty worked her magic and didn’t allow the tying run to score.

“We’re confident in our pitching and our defense,” Nedley said. “We are used to close games late.”

Hilty struck out the first batter, got the next one to bounce into a force out at home and then covered home on a passed ball to get the third out.

“We hadn’t been past the second round of the playoffs for so many years, and then to make it to the state championship our senior year is amazing,” Forsythe said.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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