CRESSON — One run was all Ligonier Valley needed on a rainy, chaotic mess of a Thursday afternoon to squeak past Chestnut Ridge in the PIAA Class 2A softball quarterfinals at Mount Aloysius College.
After rain delay of 1 hour and 40 minutes, the teams started the game around 3:10 p.m. and were forced to pause again due to rain in the bottom of the sixth.
The public-address announcer alerted both teams and fans that the remainder of the game was to be continued at Central Cambria High School, a 15-minute drive, since it has a turf facility, but Mother Nature never let up, and the game was officially called around 7 p.m., with Ligonier Valley defeating Chestnut Ridge, 1-0, in five full innings.
Ligonier Valley coach Mark Zimmerman knew it was a difficult decision either way in one of the strangest games he’s been a part of.
“It’s a very difficult thing because somebody’s going to win it and somebody will lose it,” Zimmerman said. “There’s nothing you can do about the weather and I was fine with coming down here (to Central Cambria), and I would’ve stayed until midnight. But, today was definitely unusual.”
Thursday was a classic example of a pitcher’s duel with a total of four hits combined, with only one allowed by Ligonier Valley junior ace Maddie Grimm.
The Rams (21-2) started off the game with a leadoff walk and had its runner in scoring position with one out but was unable to capitalize early.
Chestnut Ridge (19-7) had no answer for Griffin, who struck out the side in the bottom half of the first.
Neither team had an answer at the plate through three innings, where Griffin retired eight of the first nine batters by strikeout. The only play that did not results in a strikeout was an attempted drag bunt by the Lions.
In fact, four of the five balls that were put in play by Chestnut Ridge were bunts in an effort to try to manufacture a baserunner in any way possible.
The lone hit came from Lauryn Calhoun, who raked a 3-2 pitch to center and reached to second on the only hard-hit ball of the day for the Lions.
Griffin finished the day with 11 strikeouts and one walk.
“We’ve seen that a couple times before and we aren’t afraid to bunt three or four times in a row either,” Zimmerman said. “We understand that it’s something that you sometimes have to do, but Maddison came out today and did a nice job for us.”
The Rams broke through in the fourth inning. After two strikeouts, Ruby Wallace smashed a two-out double off the wall, and Bella Vargulish raced all the way from first to scored the only run of the game.
Chestnut Ridge’s Zoie Dunlap struck out six and walked three while limiting hard contact.
“It was difficult to get anything going and we got some girls on, but we couldn’t string two or three hits together,” Zimmerman said. “When you get to this stage, though, that’s probably going to be more of a norm.”
Chestnut Ridge’s best chance came during its final at-bats, the fifth inning — even though it didn’t know it at the time.
After the double by Calhoun, Griffith walked the next batter on four pitches and was presented with her first jam of the afternoon. Griffith did what she does best, though, and squished the opportunity after striking out the next two batters.
Ligonier Valley will face Union City (20-1) in the semifinals on Monday at a time and place to be determined. Union City, the District 10 runner-up, advanced with a 6-5 win over Laurel.