Trinity outhits Armstrong to win 1st WPIAL softball title

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Thursday, June 1, 2023 | 5:34 PM


Trinity found the right formula to defeat one of the best hitting teams in the WPIAL: outhit them.

That’s what the Hillers did Thursday in the WPIAL Class 5A championship game at Cal (Pa.)’s Lilley Field.

Trinity (19-2) won its first softball title by outhitting and outscoring No. 1 Armstrong, 11-7. It was the Hillers’ third trip to the finals. They lost to Franklin Regional in 2009 and to Seneca Valley in 1999.

“We finally got one,” Trinity coach Shawn Gray said. “The curse is gone.”

Trinity outhit Armstrong, 14-10.

“It came down to us outhitting them,” Gray said. “They’re a good-hitting team, and we watched a lot of film and what they were doing all season. We knew it would be tight, and Taylor (Dunn) did a good job shutting them down early.”

The Hillers took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning when senior right fielder Ryleigh Hoy launched a three-run homer off Armstrong senior pitcher Cameryn Sprankle. The blast over the right-center fence came with two outs.

“I was looking for a good pitch to hit, and she grooved it,” Hoy said. “The hit boosted our confidence. We knew we had to hit to win.”

Gray added: “Ryleigh came up clutch for us in this game.”

The Hillers extended their lead to 7-0 in the top of the second inning on a two-run single by Addison Agnew and a two-run single by Hanna Suhoski, chasing Sprankle.

“Seven runs in the first two innings,” Gray said. “Obviously, it made it a lot easier and took pressure off us.”

The hits kept coming for the Hillers in the fourth inning as Hoy crushed her second home run of the game, a two-run shot to left, to extend the lead to 9-0. The home run came off relief pitcher Madison Baker.

“I was just looking to get a hit every time at bat,” Hoy said. “I wasn’t looking for anything else. I surprised myself because I’m not a home-run hitter. I was looking for a first-pitch strike. I wasn’t swinging at the changeup.”

Armstrong, which was riding a 19-game winning streak, broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-run home run by Jenna Clotz.

The River Hawks (19-2) cut the lead to 9-6 thanks to a three-run home run by Jessie Pugh.

But Trinity added two runs in the sixth inning on a two-run single by Finley Hohn.

“We knew we had to come out hot,” Hohn said. “I’ve been in a slump, and I’ve been working on my hitting. I was looking for the inside pitch, and I got it out there.

“We spoke about the 2009 team coming up short. This is surreal. We knew we had to outhit them to win, and that’s what we did.”

Armstrong’s final run came in the bottom of the sixth inning on a double by Emma Paul.

“We’ve always been fighters, a never-give-up attitude,” Armstrong coach Keith Shaffer said. “The girls fought back, but, unfortunately, we dug ourselves too much of a hole early on.

“Trinity is a great hitting team and solid defensively. They were the best team. We got off to a slow start hitting wise, and they didn’t.”

Trinity will host the District 3 fourth-place team in the first round of the state playoffs Monday. Armstrong will face the District 2 second-place team.

Armstrong, which was the 2022 champion, will attempt to return to the state championship game for the third consecutive season.

“We’re going to refocus and focus on that state title,” Shaffer said.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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