PIAA Class A championship preview: Carmichaels vs. DuBois Central Catholic

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | 7:05 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 Carmichaels in Class A.

The PIAA Class A has not been kind to WPIAL teams. Since Class A was formed in 1999, the WPIAL has had only four Class A teams win PIAA gold: Vincentian Academy in 2008, Chartiers-Houston in 2010 and West Greene in 2017 and 2018.

Here is a look at the first PIAA softball championship game this week on Thursday morning.

PIAA Class A softball championship

Carmichaels (19-2) vs. DuBois Central Catholic (22-2)

11 a.m. Thursday at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Penn State

On the air

Pennsylvania Cable Network

District seeds

Carmichaels was the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and the No. 3 seed coming out of District 7 into the PIAA postseason after losing the district semifinals and winning the Class A consolation game.

DuBois Central Catholic was the No. 1 seed out of District 9 after beating Northern Potter, 2-1, to claim a fifth straight D-9 Class A title.

Coaches

Dave Briggs, Carmichaels; George Heigel, DuBois Central Catholic

Players to watch

Carys McConnell, Carmichaels, soph., SS; Rylee Kulbatsky, DuBois Central Catholic, soph., P

What coach said

“We need good pitching and good defense,” Carmichaels coach Dave Briggs said about what Mighty Mikes need to do to be successful Thursday. “Also we must have the ability to control our nerves and get some timely hitting.”

Path to Penn State

Carmichaels – Defeated District 10 champion Cambridge Springs in the first round, 2-1 in eight innings, knocked off District 6 champion Claysburg-Kimmel in the quarterfinals, 8-1, then beat WPIAL champion Chartiers-Houston in the semifinals, 5-4.

DuBois Central Catholic – The District 9 champions eliminated WPIAL runner-up Union in the first round, 6-1, rolled past Meyersdale in the quarterfinals, 7-1, and edged District 2 winner Old Forge in the semifinals, 2-1.

Championship factoids

Carmichaels

• The Mighty Mikes are 13-8 all-time in PIAA softball games.

• This is Carmichaels’ second PIAA softball championship game. The Mighty Mikes defeated South Williamsport in the 1998 Class 2A title game, 5-2.

• This is the 10th year the Mighty Mikes have qualified for the PIAA playoffs but only the fifth time this century. They also participated in the state playoffs in 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2023.

• Sophomore Carys McConnell has carried a big stick in the state playoffs for the Mighty Mikes. She had the game-winning RBI single in the opening round, was 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBIs in the quarterfinals, then delivered the big walk-off double to score sophomore pitcher Bailey Barnyak in the semifinals.

• Barnyak had a combined 23 strikeouts in wins over Cambridge Springs and Claysburg-Kimmel in the first two rounds of the PIAA playoffs. She also scored the game-winning run in the state semifinal comeback win over Chartiers-Houston in the bottom of the seventh inning, 5-4.

• Carmichaels lost to Chartiers-Houston in the WPIAL semifinals, 3-2, and has since rebounded with four straight wins.

DuBois Central Catholic

• The Cardinals are 17-9 all-time in the PIAA playoffs.

• DuBois Central Catholic is making its third appearance in a state championship game. The Cardinals lost to Williams Valley in the 2019 Class A state finals, 5-0, and then fell to Montgomery in the 2022 A championship game, 5-1.

• The Cardinals are 3-0 in the state playoffs this season, the 10th time they have participated in the PIAA softball postseason. They have qualified in each of the last eight seasons, along with appearances in 2014 and 1981.

• Sophomore pitcher Rylee Kulbatsky has been consistently great in the Cardinals’ three state playoff victories. In wins over Union, Meyersdale and Old Forge, Kulbatsky has allowed three earned runs on 12 hits with five walks and 31 strikeouts. She is 17-1 on the season with an ERA of 0.69.

• Thiel basketball commit senior Kayley Risser has been awesome hitting in the No. 9 spot of the Cardinals order. She is batting .485 for the season with three homers and 30 RBIs. She has four hits thus far in the PIAA postseason.

• District 9 champion DuBois Central Catholic has won 13 straight games.

PIAA Class A history lesson

• Tri-Valley from District 11 defeated the Union Scotties in the Class A finals last spring, 6-3.

• Williams Valley from District 11 was the PIAA Class A champion five years ago in 2019.

• Minersville from D-11 won it all 10 years ago in 2014.

• Curwensville from District 9 captured state gold 15 years ago in the 2009 PIAA title game.

• Blue Ridge from District 2 was crowned state champion 20 years ago in 2004 after beating Sto-Rox, 2-0.

• Minersville shut out Chartiers-Houston, 6-0, to win the first PIAA Class A state softball title 25 years ago in 1999.

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