Seneca Valley blasts past North Allegheny to win 1st WPIAL softball title since ’99

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 | 6:13 PM

Seneca Valley started partying like it was 1999 — and 1992, for that matter.

The fourth-seeded Raiders upended No. 7 North Allegheny, 9-5, to win their first WPIAL softball championship since ‘99, and third overall, on Wednesday at Lilley Field at Cal (Pa.).

Freshman Lexie Hames and senior first baseman Maddie Gross hit two-run home runs, and Hames pitched a complete game in the Class 6A final for the Raiders (13-6).

Seneca Valley coach Marlesse Hames came for the championship and stayed for the nuance. She was a pitcher and power hitter — like her daughter — on the ‘92 WPIAL championship team for Seneca Valley.

Three decades later, there will be two WPIAL champions at their dinner table.

Marlesse Hames was doused with water and ice moments after her team won. Her daughter felt the wonderful chill.

“It’s so surreal right now,” Lexie Hames said. “I can’t believe it’s over. I feel like we should go out and play another inning. It’s even crazier that I get to share this with my mom.”

The ‘92 team will be inducted into the Seneca Valley sports hall of fame this year.

Freshman third baseman Bella Gross went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, while sophomore center fielder Kara Pasquale and senior right fielder Angelina Chardella joined Maddie Gross with two hits apiece.

The Raiders have outscored their opponents 24-7 in their last six games. That included a 7-2 win over No. 1 seed Hempfield.

The district final had all the classic ingredients of a Seneca Valley win: home runs, sound pitching and solid contact up and down the order.

“I never imagined this would happen (in her first season as coach),” Marlesse Hames said. “My husband said at the beginning of the season, ‘What if we win WPIALs?’ Here we are. We knew this game was going to be a battle.”

North Allegheny, seeking its fourth WPIAL title — the first since 2006 — fell to 13-10.

“They got us today,” North Allegheny coach Morgan Vescovi said. “We wanted to put some pressure on (Lexie Hames). She is very talented, and we’re going to be dealing with her a lot in the next three years.”

North Allegheny had a pair of early leads in the third matchup of the season of Section 2 teams. (They split their season series.)

“There are very few weak points in our section,” Vescovi said. “I’d say we were both dark horses coming in. It was cool to see a four and a seven (seed) in the championship.”

But Seneca Valley’s hot lineup stayed hot, even looking stronger as the game went on.

After the Raiders grabbed a 2-1 lead on a two-run homer by Hames, the Tigers scored twice in the third on a two-run single by senior Reagan Deitrick.

Pasquale and junior Mia Ryan opened the bottom of the inning with singles, and Maddie Gross brought them around with a three-run blast to center.

“Our home runs were big again, and Kara and Mia got on to set that up,” Marlesse Hames said.

Gross and Lexie Hames are tied for the team lead with 14 homers apiece.

After a walk and an error, Bella Gross kept the basepaths moving with a two-run double, and Chardella added a run-scoring single to make it 8-3.

That prompted a pitching change for the Tigers as sophomore Anne Melle was replaced by freshman Sammy Plotsko.

“Our girls are hot-hitting right now,” Marlesse Hames said. “They kept it up.”

Four straight singles to start the fifth, though, allowed North Allegheny to push across two more runs and cut it to 8-5.

Junior Annalyn Isaacs and senior Sydni Junker had RBI singles, Junker’s skipping over the first base bag and into right.

But the rally was quashed promptly.

A double play and a terrific diving catch by Pasquale in center highlighted the Raiders’ defensive effort.

Pasquale capped the scoring with a single to left in the fifth.

Lexie Hames settled in after that, retiring six of the final seven batters. She allowed eight hits, struck out six and walked four.

She did not allow an extra-base hit.

“I told her I needed that third gear,” Marlesse Hames said of her pitcher. “Let’s get down to business.”

Deitrick and junior Meghan McDonough had two hits each, with Deitrick driving in two for the Tigers.

Both teams will compete in the PIAA playoffs beginning Monday.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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

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