Valley Vikings Nail Down First State Softball Crown By Beating Barons

Friday, June 17, 2011 | 12:00 AM

The 2011 PIAA Class AAA Softball Championship Game Friday evening at Penn State University's brand new Nittany Lion Softball Park's Beard Field between the WPIAL's third place team the Valley Vikings and the District 3 champion Manheim Central Barons turned on one play. Unfortunately for the Barons and to the benefit of the Vikings behind their sensational senior right-handed pitcher Caitlin Nealer that would be all that Valley needed to win the schools first state softball title by the score of 3-1.

The game was scoreless going into the bottom of the fourth inning and it appeared it would remain so after the fourth frame was completed. However with two outs in the bottom of the fourth Valley was given life when Manheim Central's senior shortstop Samantha Ginder (Franklin & Marshall recruit) made a low and errant throw to first base for an error and that opened the door which the middle of the Valley batting order was only too happy to walk through. Junior catcher Katrina George was safe at first on the error and senior shortstop Angelina Masters followed with a 3-2 single down the left field line. That brought up junior first basemen Carly Bonk who smashed a two-run RBI double into the gap in left center field to provide the Vikings with a 2-0 lead and what would turnout to be the game-winning hit. Senior right fielder Amanda Mascara then delivered an RBI triple into that same gap and Valley now led 3-0 when the fourth inning was finally over.

Valley's standout pitcher Caitlin Nealer was in the midst of another one of her pitching masterpieces as after allowing a two out triple in the bottom of the first to Samantha Ginder had retired the next (14) consecutive Lady Barons through five and one-third innings.

At that point she issued her only walk of the game to number nine hitter sophomore center fielder Katelyn Grazan. Nealer got the second out in the inning on a ground out to first basemen Bonk who after looking towards second base flipped the ball to senior second basemen Allison Rayburn covering at first base for out number two. Manheim then came up with a clutch two out RBI single to left center field by junior right fielder Ali Morton to breakthrough against the Vikings and turn it into a 3-1 Valley advantage.

That would be Manheim Central's last scoring opportunity of the game. Nealer with her sharp focus and maintaining the consistently excellent movement in her arsenal of pitches set the Lady Barons down in order in the top of the seventh ending the game with her tenth strikeout and setting off a delirious celebration for the Vikings between home plate and first base.

Carly Bonk was the only player on either side to record two or more hits in this game adding a single to her double.

Manheim Central's starting pitcher Alexa Campbell (Indiana University of Pennsylvania recruit) took the loss. Campbell pitched 6 innings and gave up 6 hits 1 walk and fanned 6 batters. None of the three Valley runs that she allowed were earned.

Nealer (Allegheny College recruit) closed out her high school career in fine fashion. She went the distance and only gave up those 2 hits 1 earned run 1 walk and struck out 10. Nailer threw 85 pitches of which a remarkable 59 were for strikes.

Valley brings the PIAA gold medals back to New Kensington where they will join Valley High School's only other PIAA state championship team the 1979 boys basketball team.

The Vikings also became just the second Alle-Kiski Valley high school softball team to earn a PIAA Championship. Leechburg did it twice the last time coming in 1995.

Valley finishes the 2011 season with an overall mark of 18-2 and is the only MSA Sports Network's "Sweet 16" Softball Program member to earn a PIAA softball championship this season in what was an outstanding year for the first season of the "Sweet 16" Softball Program.

Manheim Central ends their 2011 campaign with an overall mark of 26-5 and will enter next season looking to win their first-ever PIAA softball championship.

Manheim Central Barons : 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 0 = 1-2-1
Valley Vikings : 0 – 0 – 0 – 3 – 0 – 0 – x = 3-6-0


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