With Griffin back, Ligonier Valley softball team looks to make another run

Friday, March 18, 2022 | 4:20 PM

Ligonier Valley’s first season in the WPIAL was a memorable one for the softball team.

The Rams (22-3) won their section, reached the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals and made it to their first PIAA championship, losing to Line Mountain, 1-0, in nine innings.

“Us being new to the WPIAL and coming from District 6, I don’t think opponents knew much about us,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “I told the players we won’t sneak up on anyone this season.”

Despite losing six starters, five to graduation, the Rams look to make another run at the WPIAL and PIAA.

That’s because the Rams return arguably the top pitcher in the WPIAL in senior Maddie Griffin, a Youngstown State commit. The Rams rode Griffin’s strong right arm to the PIAA title game at Penn State.

Griffin went 19-3 and finished with 316 strikeouts, including 17 in the state championship game. She allowed eight earned runs and was an all-state player in Class 2A.

She was dominating in the Rams’ debut season in the WPIAL. She tossed 11 no-hitters, including four perfect games, and 17 shutouts.

The other starters back are sophomore Cheyenne Piper, who will move to shortstop from left field, and junior center fielder Ruby Wallace. Piper’s move was because junior shortstop Haley Boyd decided not to play. Piper was a two-year starter.

Graduating were Kailey Johnston, Annabella Schueltz, Bella Vargulish, Jordan Hofecker and Eden Krouse.

“We have some work to do,” Zimmerman said. “We’re going to struggle a little bit offensively early, but we’re going to try different things to produce runs.”

With Griffin, one run, in many cases, will be enough for the Rams. And Zimmerman said Griffin could even be better her this season.

“Maddie is a lot stronger, so I expect her to be a little faster and have more spin on her pitches,” he said. “She’s grown some. She’s a very competitive player

Ligonier Valley is working with only 12 players on the roster.

Zimmerman said junior Peyton LaVale will take over a first base, sophomore Lyla Barr at second and freshman Natalie Bizup at third. Freshman Sydnee Foust will be the catcher.

At the corner outfield positions will be sophomore Neve Dowden (left) and sophomore Zoe Plummer (right). Freshman Abby Henry, when she recovers from an injury, sophomore Jaden Cunningham and freshman Abby Will also are expected to contribute.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Zimmerman said. “But I’m confident. I expect us to get better throughout the season.”

Ligonier Valley had a scrimmage against Hempfield on March 16, so Zimmerman got to see home his team competed against one of the top Class 6A teams in the WPIAL.

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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