PIAA Softball Championship Previews

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 | 3:48 PM


Last year, only Neshannock from District 7 returned home from State College with a PIAA softball championship. Now the Lancers are back in the finals, except this time the 2012 Double-A state champs are playing in the 2013 Single-A finals. The Lancers are not alone from the WPIAL in Happy Valley on Friday, as they are joined by 2013 WPIAL Quad-A champion Canon-McMIllan and 2013 WPIAL Double-A champion Riverside, who want to double their gold in-take before ending the season. Here are recaps from all three championship contests to be played at Beard Field in Nittany Lions Softball Park on the campus of Penn State University.

All three games can be heard here on the MSA Sports Network.

QUAD-A GIRLS SOFTBALL:  CANON MCMILLIAN BIG MACS (24-1) VS. NESHAMINY REDSKINS (23-2)  12:30PM ON WJPA 1450-AM AND MSASPORTS.NET with Bob Gregg

Canon Mac set down Hempfield 2-1, North Allegheny 5-0 and five-time state champion Pennsbury 3-1 to advance for the opportunity to play for a state title for the first time. The Big Macs have won back to back WPIAL championship. Head Coach Michelle Moeller takes her team to the finals for the first time, after making the semis last year.

Sophomore Abby McCartney drove in all three runs in the semifinal win, including a two run homer in the sixth inning. McCartney batted with a .500 average so far this season. Senior Alayna Astuto picked up the win, she has racked up over 100 strikeouts on the season and nine shutouts.

Canon Mac has hit seven homers in the post season. McCartney jammed an ankle in the semifinal and catcher Giorgiana Zeremenko played with a stomach bug. Zeremenko homered and drove in four in the WPIAL title game win over North Allegheny 5-2.

The Big Macs have won 22 straight games since falling 17-5 to Hempfield in the third game of the season. Canon Mac has allowed only four runs during the playoff run, they have scored 26. The Big Macs have scored ten or more runs in ten of the 24 wins.

Neshaminy defeated St. Hubert 1-0, Daniel Boone 8-0 and North Penn 3-2 to run thru the top half of the bracket and look to win their second state title, taking home the gold in 2003. Lauren Quense is 22-2 in the circle this season for the Redskins, she has tossed 13 shutouts. Neshaminy averages over 7 runs per game. Quense tossed a perfect game with 15 strikeouts in the quarterfinals. She also hit a homer in the fifth inning in that game.

The Redskins were the District 1 runner-up, falling to Central Bucks East in the district championship. D-1 placed four teams into the state tournament, all four came from the Suburban One League. Neshaminy had won 17 straight games before the loss in the district final.

Starting catcher Sam Offenback was taken out of the line up with mono at the start of the post-season. Julia McGovern has taken over behind the plate and Selina Alicea came off the bench to take over at third base.

Speedy senior shortstop Diana LaPalombara is the emotional leader, she is a four year starter, moving from center field to the infield this year.
 

CLASS AA GIRLS SOFTBALL:  RIVERSIDE PANTHERS (22-0) VS. BRANDYWINE HEIGHTS BULLETS (26-2) 10AM ON WBVP 1230-AM AND MSASPORTS.NET with Bob Barrickman and Bruce Frey

Neither team has won the state title. Riverside enters as the WPIAL champion. Brandywine Heights is making it’s fourth trip to the championship game in nine years, but has came up empty in each of those four trips. Riverside has been to three state title games but never has taken the gold. Head Coach Pam McCarty looks to change that stat in 2013.

The Panthers defeated Curwensville 6-0, Ligonier Valley 13-0 and Phillipsburg Osceola 2-0 in the state tournament. Kirsten Wilson tossed another no hitter in the semifinals, she has racked up 254 strikeouts and is a dangerous hitter with a .570 averages with 4 homers and 19 runs batted in. Natalie Pritts hits cleanup and bats .450 with 20 runs driven in.

Wilson has been very stingy in the circle with 19 shutouts, the Panthers have allowed only 7 runs all season and handed Class A finalist Neshannock one of the Lancers two losses.

The Bullets shut out Fleetwood 15-0 and Pen Argyl 6-0 to advance to the semifinals. That match up was not as easy as Brandywine Heights needed ten innings to defeat Holy Redeemer 5-4 to move into the title game. Megan Olsen is the starting pitcher, she has started all 28 games this season and has a 1.81 ERA and 150 plus strikeouts. Five players in the starting lineup played in the 2011 1-0 loss to Phillipsburg Osceola, also at Penn State.

Brandywine Heights made some great plays on defense in the state semis, turning three double plays, including a game ending twin killing in the tenth. The District 3 champions won their second straight D-3 crown with a 4-2 win over Pequea Valley, the third district title for the Bullets in the last four years.

The Bullets lost the opening game of the season to Minersville 10-5, but ripped off 21 straight wins, before falling to Wilson 7-3 in the regular season finale. Brandwine Heights, under Don Roach, has won six straight games entering into Friday, they have outscored the opposition 41-7 in the post-season. 12 of the 26 wins have come in shutout form, the Bullets have reached double digits in runs 15 times.
 

CLASS A GIRLS SOFTBALL:  NESHANNOCK LANCERS (21-2) VS. WILLIAMS VALLEY VIKINGS (22-4) 3PM ON MSASPORTS.NET with Mark Schaas

It’s a battle of two teams that could have much more success over the coming years. Neshannock has just three seniors in the starting lineup, while Williams Valley does not start any seniors, with two juniors, five sophomores and two freshman in the starting nine.

The Lancers make their second consecutive trip to Beard Field, winning the Class AA state title in dramatic fashion in 2012. The move down to Class A did not affect the Lancers one bit, winning their first WPIAL championship.

Neshannock set down Elk County Catholic 9-1, Claysburg-Kimmel 6-1 and Southern Huntington 4-1 to move into the state title game. Neshannock has five of nine starters hitting over .500 for the season.
Senior center fielder Rayanna Furst leads the team from the top of the order at .576 and has scored 40 times. Furst will continue her career on the D-1 level, signing at Robert Morris University.

Sophomore pitcher Madison Shaffer has thrown three no-hitters and a perfect game this year. Coach Tracy Kimmell looks to become the first coach to win back to back state titles in different classifications.

The Lancers jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the WPIAL title victory over Carmichaels. Shaffer and Marissa DeMatteo keyed a six run second each with two run triples. Freshman catcher Marissa Kirkwood has championship experience in the family, she has participated in the WPIAL Girls Golf Championships and her father Mike is the head coach of the Neshannock baseball and golf teams that have claimed numerous championships.

Neshannock won their first seven games of the season before falling to Wilmington 6-5. The Lancers then won eight straight, including five consecutive shutouts before falling to Class AA finalist Riverside 1-0 in the season finale. Neshannock has won six straight games.

Williams Valley shut out Bloomsburg 8-0, Hyndman Charter 12-2 and Northeast Bradford 2-1 to make the trip to Penn State. Starting pitcher Cassidy Pinchorski got out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth inning, getting two strikeouts to end the inning in the semifinal win.

Williams Valley has never won a state title. Hannah Nestor leads the team with a .490 average and 23 runs batted in. Kylie Doyle has a .447 average and has driven in 31 runs. Head coach Lee Reiser has led the Vikings for the last 20 seasons. He is getting help in the dugout from senior Lacey Bixler, who fractured a bone in her forearm in a freak accident at a May practice. Also watch out for sophomore left fielder Bindy Boyer, who is small in stature at 4 foot 9 inches but big at the plate, hitting .350 and drive in a career high six runs in the PIAA quarterfinals.

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