Standing just 5 feet 1, Ryleigh Hoy was the shortest player on the field in Thursday’s WPIAL Class 5A championship game.

But wouldn’t you know, this tiny senior produced two of the biggest hits in Trinity history.

Hoy came into the game riding a major slump, but hit a pair of home runs and had five RBIs to vault Trinity to its first title after knocking off No. 1 and defending champion Armstrong, 11-7, at California University’s Lilley Field.

“It feels great,” said Hoy, a senior right-fielder who will continue her career at Mercyhurst. “I’ve been struggling the past several weeks and I hadn’t gotten a single hit, so I’m just glad that I could pull it off here. I’ve been working extremely hard and it’s very exciting that I could help out.”

Hoy fueled what was an explosive offensive effort by Trinity (19-2), the No. 3 seed which had eliminated No. 2 Shaler, 5-4, in nine innings in the semifinals. Armstrong (19-2) had not lost since dropping the season opener to Class 6A champion Hempfield and had not surrendered more than seven runs in any game this season. But keeping the Hillers offense in check was too big of a hill for Armstrong to climb, as Trinity pounded out 11 runs and 13 hits and stunningly raced to a 9-0 fourth-inning lead against the reigning champs.

“We were excited to get the opportunity to play them,” Trinity coach Shawn Gray said. “Our girls felt that we matched up well with them. I felt like we did a lot of scouting on them and that we were prepared for their pitching and what they offered. But obviously putting up 11 runs is something you don’t predict, but it’s always nice to get.”

After giving up five total runs in its first three playoff games, Armstrong allowed seven in the first two innings against Trinity. Hoy ignited the offensive firepower with a three-run blast off of Armstrong starter Cameryn Sprankle in the first inning. Addy Agnew and Hanna Suhoski added two-run singles in the second to force Sprankle from the game, and Hoy then sent a two-run home run over the outfield fence in the fourth off of reliever Madison Baker.

Hoy’s big afternoon was a surprise considering her recent slump and that she had never hit two home runs in a game in her career. Hoy, who didn’t start playing softball until she was 12 years old because she had always been a baseball player, said she hit a couple of home runs during the regular season, but had just one hit in the playoffs entering Thursday’s final.

“But she’s been slamming the ball at practice, so she just carried it over to today’s game,” Gray said. “I always preach to her, ‘You practice like you play,’ and, boy, she did it exactly the way we wanted her to.”

Ahead 9-0, it looked like Trinity might be headed toward a mercy-rule win, but the defending champions showed a lot of fight in battling back. After registering only one hit in the first three innings against Trinity starter Taylor Dunn, a potent Armstrong offense came alive in the fourth when Jenna Clontz, the hero of last year’s championship win, smacked a two-run homer to put the River Hawks on the board. An inning later, the River Hawks tacked on four more runs, the big blow coming on Jessie Pugh’s three-run home run. And all of a sudden, the Trinity lead was just 9-6.

“That’s a staple of our team. We’ve always been fighters,” Armstrong coach Keith Shaffer said. “The girls really fought back today. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves too big of a hole early on and that really hurt us. Again, Trinity, great hitting team. Solid defensively. You have to hand it to them. They were the best team today.”

Ryleigh Hoy had the big bat for Trinity, slugging two home runs to help the Hillers defeat Armstrong, 11-7, to capture the WPIAL Class 5A championship at California’s Lilley Field. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Trinity knew it would likely need some insurance runs, and designated player Finley Hohn assured the Hillers of that by hitting a two-run single with two outs in the sixth to stretch her team’s lead to five runs. It was Hohn’s third hit of the game.

“It was huge,” Hoy said. “I know some of us were getting down because we let up a couple runs, but we all stuck in the game, kept our heads up and got the win.”

Armstrong’s Emma Paul had a run-scoring double in the sixth to trim the Trinity advantage to 11-7, but that turned out to be the final run and hit the River Hawks would muster.

And with that, the Trinity Hillers had climbed the WPIAL hill and became champions for the first time.

Said Gray, “It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it feels really good.”

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at