The West Greene softball team did it again ... for the fourth straight time.
With an 11-0 victory over Union last week in the WPIAL Class A championship game at Peterswood Park, the Lady Pioneers once again made history on the softball diamond.
WPIAL softball was established as a varsity sport in 1978, and West Greene joins Swissvale, Baldwin, Sto-Rox and Hempfield to win a District 7 title four years in a row.
Swissvale doesn’t exist anymore. Sto-Rox is right in Pittsburgh and can grab their fair share of quality athletes, while the other two programs are bigger schools with a large student population.
West Greene is not like any of the aforementioned programs, and other then winning four straight titles the comparisons between the other four-peat champions stop.
Rogersville is not Pittsburgh and West Greene is not going to be graduating 500 kids a year like Baldwin or Hempfield.
What the Lady Pioneers have accomplished these past four springs is just simply special. When I covered the Jefferson-Morgan softball team’s magical run to a WPIAL title in 2015, I never thought I would ever witness a Greene County team, in any sport, make a run to another title.
I was wrong.
West Greene has surpassed expectations and has really set the tone for what a winning program looks like in a small-school setting. A lot of the girls on the team play in other sports and are involved in other activities at school. These girls aren’t just specializing in softball.
Prior to its first-round match-up in the PIAA tournament this week, West Greene’s senior class has totaled 94 career victories. Four of the seven seniors, Mackenzie Carpenter, Madison Lampe, McKenna Lampe and Kaitlyn Rizor, have started and played most of those playoff games since 2016.
There are no comparisons to what West Greene has done. Well, except for maybe one — the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.
Both wear the same colors, blue and gold, and both teams have had a lot of success as the Warriors are playing in their fifth straight NBA Finals and are on the cusp of their fourth title in that time span.
So, let’s look at the rosters for both winning teams and see if we can find more similarities.
WG’s Billy Simms and GS’s Steve Kerr
I think both can be categorized as players’ coaches and both really know how to push their teams when it comes to crunch time.
Simms always has this easy-going and calm demeanor on the field through the years. No matter the situation, he is the same coach and I think his players really feed off of that.
Doesn’t matter if the game is being played at Rice Energy Park in Rogersville or at Penn State University, the message and the messenger are always the same.
WG’s Lampe Twins vs. GS’s Splash Brothers
I think both duos are the key cogs to their respective offenses.
If the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, are not making their threes and shots the Warriors will likely struggle.
If the Lampe Twins, Madison and McKenna, are not getting on base and wreaking havoc on the base paths the Lady Pioneers will likely struggle.
Over the years the Lampe Twins have produced some video-game like numbers on the field and you can make a strong case that those two are the most talented and successful, three-sport athletes ever to come out of Greene County.
WG’s Jade Renner vs. GS’s Draymond Green
At first glance, these two demeanors on their chosen field of play are completely different. Green is an emotional, in-your-face player that will get his fair share of technical fouls, while Renner is very quiet and composed in the circle showing limited emotions.
The similarity is that both are good at preventing and defending the other teams’ offenses.
Greene is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate every season and can guard every position on the court.
Renner, the junior lefty, has put together a sensational career at West Greene and elevates her game even more in the postseason with a 17-0 record in the playoffs prior to this week.
WG’s Kaitlyn Rizor vs. GS’s Kevin Durant
I think both are tremendous athletes, but both are often overlooked.
Durant, who is currently battling a calf injury and is highly questionable if he is going to even play in the finals this season, is a two-time Finals MVP and once he finds his shooting touch, he is unstoppable.
I think Rizor, who made the switch from second base to shortstop this season after the graduation of Madison Renner, is just a clutch player and saves her best for the playoffs.
After a 15-0 victory over Jefferson-Morgan in the semifinals, Rizor had one of the best quotes of the spring.
“We live for the playoffs,” she said. “We know that every game can be your last and we are just focus on advancing and winning more games.”
Rizor has had a tremendous WPIAL postseason, collecting seven hits (including five extra-base hits), seven RBI and seven runs scored over three games.
So, whether you want to call them the Golden State Lady Pioneers or the West Greene Warriors, the similarities are definitely there between the two squads the last four years.
But there are two overwhelming similarities that both teams have, and that’s winning a lot of titles and having a whole lot of fun doing it. Once again, congratulations Lady Pioneers on a historic feat.