PIAA softball notebook: Mt. Pleasant catcher Shawley battles through pain

Wednesday, June 16, 2021 | 7:16 PM

Lexis Shawley became such a regular with Allegheny Health Network that the medical system decided to use her in one of its commercials.

Shawley, the senior catcher for the state finals-bound Mt. Pleasant softball team, has had multiple surgeries — six of them over a five-year period to be exact — on her left knee and left hand.

Recent arthritis build-up in her knee has plagued her in the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs, forcing her to play defense only and taking a bat out of her hands.

She has played through the pain. Quick innings and ice have helped.

Mt. Pleasant coach Chris Brunson said Shawley is one of the toughest players he has coached, softball or baseball.

“These girls are all very tough,” he said. “Sometimes they are tougher than boys.”

Senior pitcher Mary Smithnosky credits Shawley for the battery’s 38-inning scoreless streak in the playoffs.

“A lot of people wouldn’t be able to keep pushing forward and playing with pain like Lexis has,” Smithnosky said. “She’s been really strong, sticking it out for our team and leaving everything she has on the field.”

Shawley, who tore her ACL in seventh grade and her meniscus last year, has decided not to play in college, so Friday’s PIAA Class 3A championship against Mid Valley (22-2) will be her last high school game.

Mt. Pleasant (20-3) is seeking its second state title.

“Best decision I ever made,” Shawley said about college softball.

Shawley also had surgery on her shoulder. Her labrum was torn in ninth grade, she said, from overuse in softball. In the summer of her freshman year, she was injured in an ATV accident.

“It destroyed my (throwing) hand,” she said. “I broke three bones, three fingers and tore two tendons. I have had three surgeries to get my hand to as normal as I can get it. I have some nerve damage in it, and that’s the only thing they couldn’t fix.”

Shawley said the pain lately has grown progressively worse.

“I definitely think I’m pushing through maybe more than I should,” she said. “I’m 18, and am getting cortisone shots, which is extremely young for those. I’m afraid when I see my doctor next he’s going to tell me my softball days need to end sooner than expected and my summer full of (travel) softball shouldn’t happen.

“I’ve caught my whole life and I love it, so if I am not catching, I don’t want to play at all.”

Twice as nice

This will be just the third time Westmoreland County has sent two teams to the state finals in the same year.

Ligonier Valley (22-2) will play Line Mountain (19-3) in the Class 2A final at 11 a.m. Thursday at Penn State.

Mt. Pleasant and Mid Valley play 1:30 p.m. Friday in 3A.

The previous two times when local teams crossed paths in State College, they won state titles. Hempfield (4A) and Yough (3A) celebrated in 2016, and Hempfield (6A) and Mt. Pleasant (4A) won in ‘17.

Since the PIAA softball finals began in 1975, Westmoreland teams have won eight titles. Hempfield has four (1999, 2016, ‘17, ‘18), and Valley (2011), Mt. Pleasant, Yough and Penn-Trafford (2019) have one apiece.

Griffin rolls on

It has been said Maddie Griffin is the type of pitcher people would pay money to see pitch. Fans might get a treat when they buy a ticket to Thursday’s PIAA Class 2A title game featuring Griffin and her Ligonier Valley teammates against District 4 champion Line Mountain.

Griffin (19-2) will go against another talented ace in Line Mountain senior Kya Matter, who struck out 19 and tossed a two-hitter in a 1-0 win over Williams Valley in the semifinals.

Griffin has 299 strikeouts and 39 walks and a microscopic ERA of 0.36. She has allowed seven earned runs in 135 innings.

First time for everything

Ten WPIAL schools will make the trip to Penn State for the PIAA baseball and softball championships. Six of them will be first-time participants, including Ligonier Valley softball, the WPIAL’s newest program.

Other title-game rookies from the WPIAL are New Castle, Shenango and Eden Christian baseball, and Armstrong and Beaver softball.

Big numbers

Mid Valley sophomore Maranda Runco could be a tough out for Mt. Pleasant Friday — if the Vikings pitch to the lefty who is known for hitting tape-measure home runs.

Runco, who also pitches, has 19 homers and 47 RBIs. She has been intentionally walked 14 times in the playoffs. Runco, who has a .691 average, has 200 strikeouts in the circle.

On the tube

PCN will live stream the PIAA championships via PCN Select (pcntv.com). The games will air on cable TV Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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