Union outslugs Carmichaels to win back-to-back WPIAL Class A softball titles

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 | 8:11 PM

Union softball coach Doug Fisher wasn’t about to dwell on the unpleasant elements of his team’s 10-8 victory over Carmichaels, giving the Scotties their second consecutive WPIAL Class A championship.

Instead, he wanted to savor the end result.

Top-seeded Union (17-3) overcame an early four-run deficit, sidestepped six errors and five walks and rallied from three down with a five-run fifth to hold on and beat No. 2 Carmichaels on Wednesday at PennWest California, handing the Mighty Mikes (18-1) their first loss.

“I don’t want to do that again. That was rough,” Fisher said. “They’re a good team, a good-hitting team. We were struggling a little bit with the pitches, and they were hitting us good. But we were able to hit back.”

Addie Nogay’s two-run single was one of four hits during the decisive fifth-inning uprising and was the sophomore outfielder’s second hit of the game. Freshmen Olivia Williams and Olivia Benedict also produced two hits for Union.

Bella Cameron added a pair of RBIs for the Scotties. Sophomore right-hander Mia Preuhs survived nine hits and five walks to gain the victory. She struck out 11.

“We put up eight runs and couldn’t get the job done,” Carmichaels coach Dave Briggs said. “Hopefully, we can recover. We were that close. I felt like we had it there a couple of times.”

Both teams advance to first-round games of the PIAA tournament Monday at sites and times to be determined.

Union will meet the District 5 runner-up — Berlin Brothersvalley and Meyersdale were scheduled to play for the championship on Thursday — and Carmichaels faces District 9 champion DuBois Central Christian.

The Union softball team joins the school’s football and PIAA-champion girls basketball teams as WPIAL Class A champs this school year. The boys basketball team finished as WPIAL runner-up, while the baseball team took third place.

“What do they call us, ‘Title Township?’” Fisher said, referring to the school’s Lawrence County campus just outside New Castle in Union Township.

“We’ve been here in all four years I’ve coached, won twice, lost twice. This feels fantastic.”

Carys McConnell went 3 for 5 with five RBIs to pace Carmichaels, which won consecutive WPIAL championships in 1997-98.

Ali Jacobs also had three hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Mighty Mikes, who held leads of 3-1 after the first inning, 5-1 after an inning and a half, 5-3 after the second and 8-5 after the fourth.

“I feel like the game would have been not as close if we’d have made the plays,” Preuhs said. “But our team picked us up all throughout the game, and I knew our bats would come. Everyone tells me it’s good to have nerves, but they don’t feel good, even though it’s good to have them.”

Union sent 10 batters to the plate in the fifth, beginning with Benedict, who led off with a triple and scored on Tori May’s single. Mallory Gorgacz doubled and Cameron walked to load the bases.

May scored on an error before Carmichaels right-hander Bailey Barnyak issued consecutive walks to Williams and Allie Ross forcing in another run. Nogay followed with her two-run single.

From there, Preuhs shut the door, surviving a pair of singles by McConnell and Jacbos to open the sixth. She retired Barnyak on a fielder’s choice before striking out Kendall Ellsworth and Kaitlyn Waggett to end the inning.

After Barnyak set down Union in order in the bottom of the sixth, Preuhs got the first two outs of the seventh. Then, after Sophia Zalar reached on an error and Batis singled, she struck out McConnell to clinch the victory.

“She did good when she had to do good, so I’ll take it all day long.” Fisher said.

Preuhs, in tears afterwards amid hugs from family and friends, was relieved to retire McConnell after the Carmichaels freshman owned her in her first three at-bats, lacing a pair of doubles and a single.

“I knew she was a very good hitter, and I was trying to get her with the change-up but couldn’t,” Preuhs said. “The screwball was working good today, and I just trusted my fielders behind me, and she swung and missed.”

Barnyak, a freshman, like Preuhs, her counterpart, also gave up nine hits and walked seven and hit a batter to go with 10 strikeouts for Carmichaels.

The Mighty Mikes jumped on top in the first, scoring three times to give Barnyak an early cushion.

With one out, Ashton Batis walked and came around on a double by McConnell. Jacobs followed with an RBI double of her own, scoring McConnell, before Barnyak drove home Jacobs with a single.

Union got a run back in the bottom of the first when Williams led off with a single, advanced to second on a single by Nogay and scored on an error.

Carmichaels extended its lead to 5-1 in the second on McConnell’s two-run single, scoring Megan Voithofer, who walked, and Zalar, who reached on an error.

Union closed within 5-3 in the bottom of the second. May and Gorgacz drew back-to-back walks before May scored on an error and Williams hit an RBI single to score Gorgacz.

The Scotties tied it in the third on Cameron’s two-run double, scoring May, who was hit by a pitch, and Gorgacz, who reached on a fielder’s choice.

Carmichaels went back in front in the top of the fourth, sending nine batters to the plate and taking an 8-5 lead with the help of two Union errors. McConnell’s two-run double scored Zalar, who reached on an error, and Batis, who walked. Jacobs followed with an RBI single, driving home McConnell.

“There were some indecisive plays out there, and that’s unusual for us because we bank on our defense,” Fisher said. “It was strange for us. Probably some nerves. Usually, we’re not like that.”

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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