For five innings Wednesday, Avonworth was being strong-armed by Armstrong.
Burrell ace Katie Armstrong was keeping No. 1 Avonworth in check, allowing only one hit over those first five frames. But despite her team’s inability to get on base, Avonworth coach Jenna Muncie had a feeling it was only a matter of time before they got offensive.
“I think we were really making hard contact against Katie. We just didn’t have anything drop,” Muncie said. “We were hoping for something timely to happen, and it did.”
Avonworth, the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion, will get a chance to repeat as district champs after beating No. 4 Burrell, 3-0, in a Class 3A semifinal at North Allegheny.
Leah Kuban was the offensive star for Avonworth (20-1), as her three-run triple with two outs in the sixth provided the Antelopes with the game’s only runs.
“Amazing,” Muncie said. “She had two strikeouts before that. Just the fact that she was able to step up there with the bases loaded and the game on the line and have a big hit like that was amazing.”
Avonworth benefited from an illegal pitch in that big sixth inning. Leadoff hitter Jayla Jones struck out swinging on a 3-2 offering, but Armstrong was called for an illegal pitch, allowing Jones to reach base. Mara Stetser followed with an infield single. Then, with two outs, Rylee Gray walked, loading the bases for Kuban.
While Kuban fueled the offense, Alivia Lantzy powered the pitching. Lantzy outdueled Armstrong by tossing a one-hitter. She had five strikeouts and did not walk a batter. Armstrong surrendered only three hits, striking out seven and walking one.
It was the ninth win in a row for Avonworth, which improved to 3-0 against Burrell (13-6) this season. The Antelopes defeated their section rival by scores of 4-1 and 2-1 in the regular season.
Other Class 3A
• No. 2 Southmoreland (16-2) is headed to its first final since winning its only title in 2018 after defeating No. 3 Waynesburg (16-4), 7-0, at Peterswood Park. Winner of nine games in a row, Southmoreland scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings before breaking the game open courtesy of a four-run sixth. Taylor Doppelheuer had a two-run double and Riley Puckey had a pair of infield RBI singles for the Scotties, who also got RBIs from Amarah McCutcheon and Gwen Basinger. Winning pitcher Maddie Brown surrendered seven hits and struck out three without walking a batter. The Scotties had lost in the semifinals the previous two seasons. Waynesburg was seeking its first appearance in the final since 2005.
• Freshman Bailey Barnyak fired a two-hitter with 13 strikeouts to vault No. 2 Carmichaels (18-0) to the title game for the first time since 2013 following a 3-1 win against No. 3 Frazier (14-2) at Peterswood Park. The Mighty Mikes will try to win a title for the first time since claiming back-to-back championships in 1997-98. Another freshman, Carys McConnell, had a hand in all three Carmichaels runs. McConnell produced an RBI single in the first, homered in the third and scored on an Ali Jacobs double in the fifth. Maria Felsher provided Frazier its lone run with an RBI double in the sixth. The Commodores saw their 14-game win streak come to an end. They were looking to reach the final for the fifth time in six seasons.
• Winning pitcher Mia Preuhs fanned 16 and No. 1 and defending champion Union (16-3) scored five runs in both the first and fourth innings to top No. 4 Chartiers-Houston (13-6), 13-5, at North Allegheny. Mallory Gorgacz tripled and drove in three runs for Union, which has scored at least 10 runs in all but three of its games. Allie Ross added an RBI triple for the Scotties, who also got run-scoring hits from Preuhs, Addie Nogay, Olivia Benedict and Olivia Williams. The Scotties held a 7-5 lead before scoring five runs with two outs in the fourth. Three of those runs were scored via errors. Lauren Rush hit a two-run home run and Emily Swarrow singled in a run for Chartiers-Houston, which was seeking its first championship appearance since 2016.
WPIAL Class 3A
Avonworth 3, Burrell 0
Southmoreland 7, Waynesburg 0
WPIAL Class 1A
Carmichaels 3, Frazier 1
Union 13, Chartiers-Houston 5
Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.