Penn-Trafford softball claims school’s first state title
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn-Trafford didn’t need any dramatic comebacks in the PIAA Class 5A softball championship game like it did in Tuesday’s semifinals.
The Warriors took an early lead and never gave it up in defeating defending champion Lampeter-Strasburg, 5-3, on Friday at Penn State’s Beard Field. It was the school’s first state title.
Penn-Trafford (23-2) became the fifth school in Westmoreland County to win a state softball title. They join four-time winner Hempfield, Mt. Pleasant, Yough and Valley.
“It went according to script,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “Morgan (Hilty) did her job, and then Mia (Smith) shut them down. Our hitters outhit theirs.
“They were a lot like us. Their coach (Gene Charles) told me that’s the first time they were held under 10 hits all season.”
Penn-Trafford collected nine hits, and Lampeter-Strasburg had eight.
Senior first baseman Emma Armstrong gave Penn-Trafford the early 2-0 lead when she doubled in two runs in the third inning. The Warriors never trailed.
Lampeter-Strasburg (28-2) got a run back in the bottom of the third and loaded the bases with two outs. But P-T senior catcher Carlee Lamacz quieted the threat when she picked a runner off first base to end the inning.
“It works almost every time,” Lamacz said. “The runner never knows it’s coming. I saw the baserunner take a big lead, and I knew it was going to work. This a dream come true winning the title my senior season.”
Lamacz’s defensive play wasn’t the only big play the Warriors defense made. Sophomore right fielder Emma Little hauled in a long drive with two on in the fifth, and junior third baseman Jess Lichota snagged a line drive to open the seventh.
Penn-Trafford increased its lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning when Little tripled off the right-field fence, Allie Prady walked and both scored on a bunt by Hilty. Prady scored on a throwing error on the play.
Lampeter-Strasburg got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth on Tayrn Hostetter’s single. Armstrong then made it 5-3 with a long home run, her eighth, over the center-field fence.
“I was just going up to the plate looking to do my job,” Armstrong said. “I was happy with the outcome. I knew it was gone when I hit it.
“Winning the state is everything I could dream of and even more. I’m really proud of this group of girls. Getting on top early kept the momentum on our side.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Hilty allowed two hits before recording an out, which prompted coach Little to go to freshman Smith.
There was a tense moment when Gabby Drumm launched a deep fly to right, but Emma Little tracked it down at the warning track.
“My only worry was, was it deep enough to go out,” Denny Little said. “When I saw Emma have a bead on it, I knew she had it.”
Emma Little said: “I told myself to tuck the glove and run. I knew I had it, and I wasn’t worried by running into the wall.”
Smith, who said she was a nervous wreck, retired the final eight batters to record the save.
“When that girl hit the ball I was nervous,” Smith said. “But I knew Emma was going to get it. She’s a very good outfielder.”
Armstrong drove in three runs with a double and home run. Little hit a triple and single, and Prady had two hits. Summer Peters had three singles for Lampeter-Strasburg.
During Penn-Trafford’s run, the Warriors defeated teams — Lampeter-Strasburg and Donegal — that had won the previous two PIAA Class 5A titles. P-T lost to Connellsville in the WPIAL semifinals.
“When I took the coaching job in 2017, I believed we could be here,” Denny Little said. “I believed we could have won it three years ago, we just had to get past that first obstacle. I truly believe in these kids.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .