Neshannock scores softball state title
UNIVERSITY PARK — Teams this young aren’t supposed to win state championships, but Neshannock’s fresh-faced softball squad didn’t do a lot of things the traditional way.
Least of all, the way the Lancers won the program’s first PIAA title.
In the bottom of the eighth inning Friday in the Class AA title game at Nittany Lion Softball Park, Neshannock sophomore Madison Altmeyer drilled a leadoff triple down the right-field line — no small feat against Warrior Run standout Taylor Parker, who hadn’t allowed an extra-base hit.
A bigger surprise was to come. Two batters later, Parker threw a wild pitch over catcher Lynn Vermilya’s head to the backstop. Altmeyer dashed home and slid feet-first just ahead of Vermilya’s tag, giving the Lancers a 4-3 win.
“No hesitation,” Altmeyer said. “I felt it was a now-or-never thing.”
It was another heady play made by the suddenly experienced Lancers (24-1), who started three freshmen and three sophomores in their first appearance in the PIAA final.
“The beginning of the year, we thought we were going to be pretty good,” coach Tracy Kimmel said. “But you never know you’re going to get here. A lot of things have to go your way.”
Neshannock got some good fortune early. After Rayanna Furst singled to lead off the first, Madison Shaffer slapped a grounder through the left side, but Warrior Run outfielder Katie Swartz mishandled the ball and it skirted into foul territory. Furst and Shaffer scored on the error.
The District 4 champion Defenders (24-2) got both runs back the next inning before taking a 3-2 lead in the third. Neshannock’s Marissa Dematteo tied it up in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single.
It was a pitchers’ duel the rest of the way between Amanda Furst and Parker, who struck out eight but was the first to blink.
“You can’t take anything from Neshannock,” Warrior Run coach Garth Watson said. “They’re a tough team and did what they had to do.”
Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-5697.
is a former freelancer.