Two Lawrence County softball teams remain in the state title hunt.
Last week, Neshannock and Union high softball teams reached the playoffs. They will try to reach Penn State University for the PIAA title tilts on Monday.
The Lady Lancers have playoff experience. Defending PIAA Class 2A champion Neshannock has won 48 straight games.
The Lady Scots are in their first state semifinal.
Class 2A Neshannock will play Everett at 2 p.m. at Heindl Field in Dubois. Class 1A Union will play Claysburg-Kimmel at Norwin at 2 p.m.
Everett vs. Neshanock
The Lady Lancers are 22-0 after a tough 2-1 quarterfinal win over Sharpsville.
24-0 Lady Warriors defeated Cranberry 12-2 in five innings to reach the semifinals. District 5 champion Everett defeated Laurel 15-12 to start the state playoffs.
“Their pitcher played travel ball with one of my players. “It’s familiar,” said Neshannock coach Jackie Lash. “They have great hitters.
“Their runs per game are incredible. 27 runs in two state playoff games.
“We expect them to play well offensively. We’re strong defensively. We’ll fight. We can limit them to three runs. That will be difficult for everyone.
Neshannock arrives with a 48-game winning streak. It may be the longest WPIAL streak. The Lady Lancers have trailed three times this season. Riverside and Laurel.
“We discussed blocking it. Lash claimed they don’t feel pressurized. I say, put the pressure on me.
“If we lose, everyone will look at me. The girls should play outside and have fun. Your favorite game. Enjoy yourself.”
Lash thinks defense will help her squad beat Everett. The Lady Warriors have scored 10 runs in all but four games this season. Everett beat Fannett Metal by 42 runs.
“We just need to keep playing defense like we have,” she added. “As the games go on, that’s our strength, led by Addy (Frye) pitching.
“Nobody has scored more than three runs against us in those 22 games. Our defense must play flawlessly. We must regain our striking rhythm. I saw high scores. No way. Keep them under three runs. We’ll take four.”
Lash believes her squad benefits from state playoff experience.
“This is where we want to be,” Lash added. “We’re taking it game by game. We’re halfway to our season-third target.
“We need to recharge from Thursday.
Only six times this year have the Lady Lancers been under 10 runs. Aaralyn Nogay leads off for Neshannock, followed by her younger sister Jaidon and Frye. Hunter Newman bats fourth, Gabby Quinn fifth, and Gabby Perod sixth.
“I think we’re very strong on offense,” Lash added. “That’s been lacking lately. Aaralyn and Jaidon are fast and versatile with their bats.
“Speed has won us many games. Start strong. I worry less. Many games remain. I think we’ll get that huge inning. We don’t mind bunts. Our speed bats first.”
Frye (18-0) has dominated the circle for Neshannock. She struck out seven in the quarterfinals and 12 in the first round versus Penns Valley. Frye has allowed 10 state playoff hits, seven to Penns Valley, and one walk.
Lash called Frye strong. “Games she’s locked in. I generally trust her consistency.
She delivers speed and location. Velocity exists. She finds. Her changeup has improved, and she hits her areas. I always expect good performance. She’s composed. She was calm against Sharpsville, her old colleagues. Just Addy. Just be your best Addy Frye. Work hard.”
Neshannock’s one-run triumph over Sharpsville was only its second during its 48-game winning streak.
Lash said the game was excellent. I felt comfortable after two runs. That game prepared us for this semifinal.”
Last year, Laurel beat Everett 5-0 in the state playoffs.
Neshannock defeated Conwell-Egan 4-1 to win the state championship last season.
The winner plays the South Williamsport-Bald Eagle winner at 11 a.m. Thursday at Penn State University’s Nittany Lion Softball Park for the state title.
Union vs. Claysburg-Kimmel
After beating West Branch 5-2, the 19-3 Lady Scots advanced to the playoffs.
Union coach Doug Fisher thought the girls did well. It’s another game. We want to reach the finals.”
The Lady Bulldogs (22-3) defeated Chartiers-Houston 5-1. Claysburg-Kimmel wins District 6.
Fisher stated Claysburg-Kimmel’s pitching is good.
Union won the WPIAL again. Last year, Fisher said everything after that game was a bonus. His squad prioritized state championships this year.
“Every game we win seems like another game,” he remarked. “We’re focused on the finals. No excitement yet. We’re just getting there.”
The WPIAL champion Lady Scots defeated Carmichaels 10-8. Fisher said his squad needs to “tighten up” for the state playoffs.
He called the WPIAL championship game the worst of the year. We practiced well and figured it out. Small things.
“Statistically, we played poorly. Four or five mistakes. Not us.”
Union sophomore pitcher Mia Preuhs (12-3) is hot. She struck out 17 West Branch hitters in the quarterfinals.
“She’s dialed in,” Fisher added. She warmed up and is now there.
It was a mix. She’s my most consistent offspeed pitcher. She hits that on command. Most people can nail their changeup 50% of the time. She’s 75–80% and located correctly. She served. She grasps things better.”
Union has scored double figures in four of five playoff games. The Lady Scots won their lowest postseason game against West Branch.
Fisher stated he liked our offense. Our freshman truly drive us. They’re great.
Liv Williams is 1A’s top leadoff batter. She hits well. She doubles. Olivia Benedict hits. That’s egregious. Addie Nogay is fast and strong. Mia’s bat is large too.”
Fisher said his team’s semifinal triumph is comparable.
“We must hit,” he urged. Defense wins titles. We’re simply focusing and fighting.”
The Lady Scots hope to win softball gold after winning WPIAL and PIAA basketball titles.
Realignment dropped Claysburg-Kimmel from Class 2A to Class 1A last year. 7-2, Conwell-Egan defeated the Lady Bulldogs in the state playoffs.
Last year, Saegertown defeated Union 1-0 in eight innings in the quarterfinals.
The winner plays the Tri Valley-Glendale winner at 11 a.m. Friday at Penn State University’s Nittany Lion Softball Park in the state championship game. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Frazier and Chartiers-Houston in the PIAA playoffs.