PIAA SOFTBALL: Williams Valley routs Neshannock to win state softball title
STATE COLLEGE - Williams Valley batted around in the fourth inning.
The Vikings batted around again in the fifth.
They batted around one more time in the sixth.
Domination. Demolition. Seldom a shadow of a doubt, Williams Valley is the PIAA Class A state softball champion for the first time in school history.
In a performance that grew more overwhelming in each inning, the Vikings routed Neshannock 13-0 in six innings Friday afternoon at Penn State University's Nittany Lion Softball Park.
Winning pitcher Cassidy Pinchorski tossed a three-hit shutout, and her offense and defense backed her with near-perfect games.
No. 8 batter Maura Kreiser led the offense with a hit, two walks and three RBIs. Leadoff batter Hannah Nestor also knocked in three runs.
"It's unreal,'' Pinchorski said. "It's incredible how awesome this is. We come from such a small valley, but we're the state champions.''
The game was scoreless through three innings before Williams Valley took a 3-0 lead in the fourth, scoring on bases-loaded walks by Katie Whelski and Bindy Boyer and an RBI single off the bat of Kreiser.
The Vikings (23-4) added four runs in the fifth inning for a 7-0 lead, as RBI singles by Whelski and Kyrsten Miller were the key hits.
The Vikes exploded for six more runs in the sixth inning, with Hannah Nestor's two-run double, a one-hop blast off the left-field fence, forcing the second pitching change of the game.
Neshannock (21-3) entered the game as the defending PIAA Class AA champion, the District 7 champion and a team so full of gaudy statistics that to some the Lancers seemed destined to repeat.
Turned out Williams Valley was the team of destiny.
The Vikings believed. They believed in themselves, they believed in each other, and they believed they could win a state championship.
They respected the Lancers. But they didn't fear them. They weren't intimidated.
This starting lineup of two juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen didn't shrink in the biggest moments in its first-ever trip to the biggest stage. Instead, they rose to the occasion and embraced the moment, whether it was working a walk, delivering a key hit, making a key catch in the field.
"They've grown up so much,'' Williams Valley coach Lee Reiser said. "They dedicate their lives to softball.''
Making solid contact against hard-throwing Neshannock right-hander Madison Shaffer, Williams Valley struck for three runs in the fourth inning that turned the momentum the Vikings' way.
Freshman Rayanne Hawk's bunt single - Williams Valley's first hit of the day - started the rally. After 36 pitches in the inning, the Vikings put a crooked number on the board.
That was just the beginning.
The Vikings refused to swing at pitches out of the strike zone, laying off Shaffer's rise and making her try to throw strikes.
She couldn't. In two stints in the circle, she walked seven, allowed six hits and seven earned runs.
In all, the Vikes had nine hits and 10 walks. Six of those free passes came with the bases loaded and forced in runs.
Leading by 13, all that remained was to get three outs in the bottom of the sixth. Neshannock rapped two of its three hits in the inning, including a shot off the bat of Marissa DeMatteo that struck Pinchorski squarely on the shin.
She slumped to the ground in pain. Williams Valley's huge throng of fans along the third-base line - on their feet cheering as they awaited the final out - sunk into their seats. A collective hush covered the crowd.
After a few moments and an examination from the trainer, Pinchorski rose to her feet, made a few warm-up tosses, flexed her leg and went back to work.
Six pitches later it was over, Pinchorski enticing Cassidy Burrelli to swing and miss a ball in the dirt. Catcher Maura Kreiser applied the tag for the final out, and the celebration was on.
"I knew I had to get back up,'' Pinchorski said. "There was one more out. There was no way I was coming out.''
Once Williams Valley got to Shaffer and the Lancers, they didn't let go, riding an ever-growing wave of momentum to the state championship.
"It's the best feeling in the world,'' Pinchorski said. "That was our main goal, and we accomplished it.''