McMURRAY — While Monday’s PIAA Class A first-round playoff game didn’t feature a trophy or a medal ceremony like Wednesday’s WPIAL championship did for West Greene, one thing remained the same.
The Lady Pioneers were victorious, again, beating District 5 runner-up Rockwood, 8-1, to move to within three games of their third consecutive PIAA Class A title.
Despite the seven-run victory, head coach Bill Simms didn’t feel his team was at its best Monday evening.
“We normally hit the ball a little bit better, but we didn’t today,” Simms said. “Anytime we can get a win, that’s a good win for our program.”
It was just the eighth time this season the Lady Pioneers (20-6) were held to less than 10 runs, and only one of West Greene’s hits went for extra bases.
Junior pitcher Jade Renner was locked in. After giving up a single to start the game, Renner didn’t allow another hit until the sixth inning, finishing the evening with one earned run on four hits, eight strikeouts and two walks.
“It was a little hectic,” Renner said. “But I had a lot of spin on my (pitches), so I think that kind of offset them.”
Renner also contributed offensively, going 2-4 with an RBI.
It didn’t take the four-time defending WPIAL champions long to draw blood. With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Renner helped herself by singling home lead-off hitter McKenna Lampe to put the Lady Pioneers in front.
West Greene added three runs in its next at-bat.
After Jersey Wise singled to lead off the inning and subsequently stole second, a sacrifice bunt attempt by Mackenzie Carpenter was thrown over the first baseman’s head, allowing Wise to score. West Greene would make it 3-0 one batter later when designated player Kylie Simms singled home Carpenter. Then, with two outs in the inning, Madison Lampe singled to score Simms, pushing the lead to four.
The Lady Pioneers put the game out of reach with three runs in the fourth inning, two of which came on a hit by shortstop Kaitlyn Rizor.
“Today, we weren’t hitting as good,” Rizor said. “We still hit good to produce eight runs, but (we weren’t) our normal selves.
West Greene added a run in the fifth inning, and though Rockwood (13-8) broke the shutout in the top of the sixth, Renner set them down in the seventh to preserve the win.
Kaitlyn King took the loss, allowing eight runs — seven earned — over five innings.
The Lady Pioneers will play District 9 runner-up Clarion, who defeated Commodore Perry, 6-0. While West Greene’s first-round win wasn’t as emphatic as some of it’s other triumphs, for Simms, all that matters is the result.
“They did enough to win,” said Simms, “Which is enough in this (single elimination) format of a tournament.”