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Ridge loses heartbreaker in five

By Matt Michelone

For the Mirror

CRESSON — The Chestnut Ridge softball team had to fight off two opponents Thursday afternoon: Ligonier Valley and the weather.

The Lady Lions couldn’t overcome either one as Ruby Wallace’s RBI double in the fourth inning knocked in Bella Vargulish as they fell 1-0 in five innings to the Lady Rams in the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals at Mount Aloysius College. Because of rainy weather, officials called the game after five innings.

“Hard,” Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor said, describing how the game ended. “They put a lot of time in. We work all winter, spring, summer, fall and they believed in themselves, and they did something no one ever did in the program.

“It hurts when it’s just finished that quickly without you having any control of it. It’s no one’s fault, no one to blame, just the way the game went. It hurts a lot worse than regular losing.”

Before the officials called the game, the two teams attempted to complete the game by moving it to nearby Central Cambria High School following a rain delay that lasted nearly three hours. That was before the game even started following the initial 1 hour, 46-minute wait.

“When we showed up here this morning, we realized it rained here, there’s a tarp sitting there, and the field is not tarped,” Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman said. “Finally, we got started and it looked like the weather was going to be smooth sailing and then in the fourth or fifth inning it started threatening again.”

Junior hurler Morgan Griffin proved to be too much for the Lions as she struck out eight of her first nine batters. She managed to carry a perfect game into the fifth inning which was broken up on a Lauren Calhoun double. Griffin struck out 11 for the afternoon while allowing just one hit.

“We came up here against one of the best pitchers in the state,” Lazor said. “They battled in there. Zoie (Dunlap) matched her pitch for pitch. The difference came that they got a walk, then hit a double. We hit a double, then we got walked. They got us.”

Both coaches have never experienced anything like this before but appreciate the PIAA making every effort for making sure the game went the full seven innings.

“I understand what they were doing,” Zimmerman said. “It’s hard to win this way, it’s really hard to lose this way, but if you pick up and things aren’t right and you lose it on a girl slipping or falling down, that’s not going to be a real happy ending either.”

Lazor had no complaints.

“(The game manager is) trying to do what was best for the girls,” Lazor said. “I have no hard feelings toward him.”

The Lions meanwhile finished off their season at 18-7 and will graduate three seniors following a season in which they won their first-ever state playoff game.

“I hate for it to end like this without you even knowing it’s ending, and that’s what makes this so hard,” Lazor said. “Our season just got ended and we didn’t even know it. (It’s) a lesson of life.”

LIGONIER VALLEY (1): Griffin p 200, Schueltz 2b 301, Johnston 1b 300, Vargulish lf 110, Piper ss 301, Hofecker 3b 300, Wallace cf 201, Barr lf 200, LaVale ph 000, Krouse c 200. Totals: 21-1-3.

CHESTNUT RIDGE (0): Dunlap p 200, Corle 2b 200, I. Wingard ss 200, Henderson c 200, Calhoun cf 201, M. Wingard 3b 100, Giovanelli 1b 200, Ansell lf 200, Mowry rf 100. Totals: 16-0-1.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Ligonier Valley 000 10X X – 1 3 0

Chestnut Ridge 000 00X X – 0 1 0

2B — Wallace; Calhoun. RBI – Wallace.

PITCHING

LIGONIER VALLEY: Griffin (W) 5 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 1 BB 11 SO.

CHESTNUT RIDGE: Dunlap (L) 5 IP 3 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 5 SO.

Records: Ligonier Valley (21-2), Chestnut Ridge (18-7).

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