PIAA Class 5A softball championship preview: Thomas Jefferson vs. Pittston Area

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | 6:58 PM


This is the seventh season of the PIAA hosting six state softball championships and the 13th season the state has held the finals at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Penn State.

The WPIAL is sending four teams to the state softball championships in Happy Valley, including Thomas Jefferson in Class 5A.

The WPIAL has enjoyed great success in the PIAA Class 5A playoffs. In the six previous 5A state tournaments, a WPIAL team has reached the title game five times — in each of the last five years. Penn-Trafford, however, is the only team to win it all in 2019.

Here is a look at the third PIAA softball championship game this week on late Thursday afternoon.

PIAA Class 5A softball championship

Thomas Jefferson (15-8) vs. Pittston Area (21-1)

4 p.m. Thursday at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Penn State

On the air

Pennsylvania Cable Network

District seeds

Thomas Jefferson was the No. 10 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and was the No. 2 seed coming out of District 7 for the PIAA postseason after losing in the district championship game to Armstrong.

Pittston Area was the No. 1 seed out of District 2 after beating Abington Heights, 3-0, in the District 2/4 Class 5A sub-regional to qualify for the state playoffs.

Coaches

Heidi Karcher, Thomas Jefferson; Frank Perante, Pittston Area

Players to watch

Zoe Krizan, Thomas Jefferson, sr., CF; Gianna Adams, Pittston Area, sr., P

What coach said

“We are the road warriors,” Thomas Jefferson coach Heidi Karcher said of her team’s unexpected success in the postseason after a 9-7 regular season. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you end up.”

Path to Penn State

Thomas Jefferson – Defeated District 3 runner-up Solanco in the first round, 17-4, knocked off District 1 runner-up West Chester East in the quarterfinals, 3-1, then beat District 6 champion Central Mountain in the state semifinals, 9-8.

Pittston Area – The District 2 champion’s crushed District 12 runner-up Little Flower in the first round, 19-0, eliminated the No. 3 team from District 3, Mechanicsburg, in the quarterfinals, 4-1, and blanked District 3 winner South Western in the semifinals, 2-0.

Championship factoids

Thomas Jefferson

• The Jaguars are 8-5 all-time in PIAA softball games.

• This is Thomas Jefferson’s first trip to a PIAA softball championship game. The program had reached the state semifinals twice, losing in 2001 and 2018.

• This is the sixth year the Jaguars have qualified for the PIAA playoffs, doing it first in 1985 then again in 2001, 2002, 2014 and 2018.

• Senior center fielder Zoe Krizan has been a force at the plate all season, but especially in the state playoffs. In the first round, Krizan was 3 for 4 with four RBIs, then in the semifinals, the Drexel commit had a double, a home run and drove in five runs.

• In TJ’s final four victory over Central Mountain, the Jaguars trailed early, 6-0, but thanks to Krizan and junior Alayna Grese playing long ball, the Jags tied the game, setting the stage for junior Morgan Alisesky, who broke a tie with a two-run single in the sixth inning to put Thomas Jefferson up to stay.

•Since losing to Armstrong in the WPIAL title game, Thomas Jefferson has rebounded with three straight wins.

Pittston Area

• The Patriots are 9-2 all-time in the PIAA playoffs.

• Pittston Area is making its second appearance in a state championship game. The Patriots shut out Armstrong two years ago to win the 2022 Class 5A state title, 4-0.

• The Patriots are 3-0 in the state playoffs this season. It’s only the fourth time they have participated in the PIAA softball postseason. They lost in the quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019 before winning four straight state playoff games to capture gold in 2022.

• Senior pitcher Gianna Adams is a two-time Class 5A pitcher of the year in Pennsylvania. She is 20-1 this season with a 0.33 ERA with 18 walks and 273 strikeouts. The Carnegie Mellon commit is also an outstanding hitter, batting .433 with one homer and 15 RBIs for the Patriots.

• Pittston junior Gabby Gorzkowski had half of her team’s hits in the semifinals, going 3 for 3. She also had a hit in each of the Patriots’ first two state playoff wins.

• District 2 champions Pittston Area has won five straight games since its only loss of the season to North Pocono.

PIAA Class 5A history lesson

• Northern York from District 3 defeated Shaler in the Class 5A finals last spring, 3-2 in nine innings.

• Lampeter-Strasburg from District 3 has won two PIAA 5A championships, beating Armstrong in 2021, 10-7, and previously knocking off West Allegheny in the 2018 finals, 6-2.

Penn-Trafford defeated Lampeter-Strasburg in the 2019 finals, 5-3, for the only WPIAL 5A state crown thus far.

• Donegal captured the first PIAA Class 5A championship in 2017 by beating Cedar Cliff in an all-District 3 title game, 9-8.

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