PIAA Class 2A softball finalists Ligonier Valley, Line Mountain similar

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021 | 9:50 PM


There are a lot of similarities between the Ligonier Valley and Line Mountain softball teams.

In many ways, they mirror one another.

Both are making their first trip to the PIAA championship game and seeking their first state title. Both have dominating pitchers and, recently, the offenses have come up with timely hitting.

But runs could be at a premium.

A pitchers’ duel could develop between Ligonier Valley junior Maddie Griffin, who has tossed 11 no-hitters, and Line Mountain senior Kya Matter, who struck out 19 in Monday’s semifinal win against Williams Valley.

Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman repeatedly has said he doesn’t know much about his playoff opponents other than they must be good to get this far.

“As long as we do what we do, I’m confident we’ll play well,” Zimmerman said. “If Maddie is changing speeds and hitting her spots, she’s tough to hit.”

Griffin has struck out 299 batters this season. She had 12 against Union City on Monday, including the final three batters.

Griffin, however, hasn’t been pleased with her recent outings.

“I’m a perfectionist,” Griffin said. “If I throw a no-hitter, I’d want a perfect game. I know I can pitch better.”

Griffin has been able to baffle opposing hitters all season. She allows few hits and usually strikes out 10 or more batters consistently in a game.

She’s also the lead-off batter and usually starts rallies. She had the winning hit when Ligonier Valley defeated Neshannock in the WPIAL playoffs.

“This means a lot getting to the finals,” Zimmerman said. “We just want to win one for the school. We don’t have a team state champion, and we’re going to try to get it.”

But the Rams’ offense has been coming up big lately, and that’s no surprise to Zimmerman.

“We started in the middle of the season trying to build to the end of the season,” Zimmerman said. “We had to try to produce some runs against some tough pitching.

“We bunted more and did some things against some teams, but we started playing softball that we thought we had to play to get to the end of the year.”

Against Union City, senior first baseman Kailey Johnston smacked a two-run single in the third inning to give Ligonier Valley a 2-0 lead. The offense collected 12 hits in the win.

“We’re so excited about reaching the finals,” Johnston said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. This is so amazing, we’re so excited. We’re proud of Maddie and proud of every single girl on the team.”

Griffin said the offense has been taking pressure off her lately by scoring runs.

“The offense is coming around,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to pitch with more than a one-run lead. I’ve said this before, everyone has to sacrifice something if we want to go the whole way and everyone has. Everyone has put down a sacrifice bunt when we need it or get a hit when we need it.”

“We’re so excited about reaching the finals,” Johnston said. “We’ve worked so hard for this. This is so amazing, we’re so excited. We’re proud of Maddie and proud of every single girl on the team.”

Now Griffin and her Rams teammates look to make history.

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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