For a moment, late in the WPIAL Class 1A semifinal grudge match between No. 2 Carmichaels and No. 3 Chartiers-Houston, it appeared another marathon game might be in the making.

Of course, those who have been paying attention will remember that the two fierce section rivals met in a memorable 15-inning game earlier this season that took more than two weeks to complete — and their second meeting was another back-and-forth battle that came down to the final pitch. With each team winning one game apiece while splitting the Section 2 crown, many eagerly anticipated Wednesday’s rubber match at Montour for a spot in the WPIAL title game from the moment playoff brackets were released.

Needless to say, Part III of the trilogy did not disappoint.

On an evening when ace pitchers Meadow Ferri (Chartiers-Houston) and Bailey Barnyak (Carmichaels) largely silenced the explosive lineups of their respective foes, Buccaneers freshman Aubree Randolph came home to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh inning, then Ferri struck out Mighty Mikes star Carys McConnell to end the game and lift Chartiers-Houston to a 3-2 win. The Bucs have won eight WPIAL titles, tied for third most in WPIAL history, but haven’t been to the finals since 2016 and haven’t raised a WPIAL championship banner since winning back-to-back titles in 2011-12.

“We’ve been working since June of last year for this moment,” said longtime Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson. “We’re really happy to be back in the finals — finally.”

Ferri made headlines when she struck out 30 batters in that unforgettable 15-inning contest earlier this season, and she was on top of her game once again on Wednesday. The junior struck out nine while allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in a complete-game victory, and she also knocked in a crucial game-tying run with an RBI groundout in the top of the sixth inning — but she saved her best for last with the game-clinching strikeout of McConnell.

“[McConnell] is such a great player,” Alderson said. “Meadow brought her best stuff.”

Her battery mate, junior catcher Ella Richey, put her jaw-dropping power on full display with a solo home run to lead off the game in the top of the first inning, and Richey later added a double on a line drive into the gap in the fifth. Richey led the WPIAL with 14 home runs as a sophomore and is now up to nine this year as a junior.

“She’s the sparkplug at the top of the lineup,” Alderson said. “She’s so focused. She works so hard. I can’t say enough about her. She’s amazing.”

With the Bucs leading, 1-0, in the top of the fifth inning, Carmichaels threw out a would-be insurance run on a razor-close play at the plate after a great relay on Richey’s double into the gap. McConnell then sliced a go-ahead two-run double down the right-field line in the bottom of the fifth to put the Mighty Mikes on top, 2-1 — but not for long.

After Lauren Rush singled and advanced to third base on an error in the top of the sixth, Ferri brought her home on a groundout to tie the score, 2-2. Then, with Richey batting with two outs and Randolph on third in the top of the seventh, a wild pitch made its way to the backstop, and Randolph slid home safely for the winning run just before Barnyak could apply the tag.

“I told [Randolph] when she was on third, ‘You’re going to score the winning run right here,'” Alderson said. “And she said, ‘OK, coach.’ And she did. So I’m really happy for her.”

Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson reacts after her team doused her with water after their 3-2 win against Carmichaels in the WPIAL Class 1A semifinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Montour. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

The three meetings between the teams so far this year have been decided by a total of four runs, with the Bucs winning at Carmichaels on April 19, 6-5, and the Mighty Mikes emerging victorious in the 15-inning game at Chartiers-Houston, 7-5. Of course, a fourth meeting in the state playoffs is still possible, but the Bucs aren’t thinking about that right now. After all, they have a daunting challenge in front of them against two-time defending champion Union, which appears stronger than ever in its quest for a WPIAL three-peat.

No matter what happens in the title game next week, Alderson and her players will be sure to cherish the moment after years of close calls and near-misses on the road to Lilley Field. Just don’t think for a second they’ll be satisfied with just getting there.

“Obviously we wanted to win this game, but we haven’t earned anything yet,” Richey said. “We know we still have so much work to do. We’re still hungry. We want to bring it home.”

Union’s Tori May, left, celebrates with her team after their 10-0 win against West Greene on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Montour. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other Class 1A semifinal

• Mia Preuhs pitched six innings of shutout ball with six strikeouts and swatted a home run for two-time defending WPIAL champion Union in a 10-0 triumph against No. 5 West Greene at Montour. Breakout freshman Irelyn Fisher belted a three-run homer to get the scoring started for the No. 1 Scotties, and sophomore standout Olivia Williams drove in a pair to help polish off the mercy-rule victory.

Class 6A semifinals

• There will be a new champion in the largest classification, as No. 1 Hempfield saw its season come to a stunning end via a 5-2 upset loss against No. 5 Norwin at Gateway. Entering the game with a record of 9-10, few would have expected the Knights to keep things close against the Spartans, winners of 14 consecutive games and six WPIAL titles in the past eight seasons. But Norwin jumped out to an early lead on a two-run homer by Josey Michalski in the top of the first inning, then pitcher Brookelyn Kotch tacked on an RBI double before shutting down Hempfield’s high-powered bats the rest of the way to clinch the Knights’ first WPIAL championship appearance.

• Clemson recruit Lexie Hames was at the peak of her powers for No. 2 Seneca Valley in a 7-1 win against No. 6 Canon-McMillan at North Allegheny, allowing one run on one hit with 18 strikeouts to send the Raiders to their third consecutive WPIAL championship game. Kara Pasquale went 3 for 4 with an RBI and Abby Kalkowski drove in a pair for Seneca Valley, while Hames went 1 for 2 with a pair of walks at the plate.

Chartiers-Houston coach Tricia Alderson covers her head as her team dumps water on her after their 3-2 win against Carmichaels in the WPIAL Class 1A semifinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Montour. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 5A semifinals

• Multi-sport star Emma Paul delivered a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to cap off a furious comeback for No. 1 Armstrong with an 8-6 victory against No. 4 Penn-Trafford at Gateway. The River Hawks trailed, 6-1, before storming back to secure their fourth consecutive WPIAL championship appearance thanks to Paul’s heroics. Jessie Pugh notched three of Armstrong’s 13 hits on the afternoon, and Rachel Ban drove in three runs while earning the win with a gutsy effort out of the bullpen.

• In a rare semifinal showdown between two double-digit seeds, No. 10 Thomas Jefferson edged No. 11 Latrobe, 4-2, to clinch its third WPIAL championship appearance and first since 2018. Aubrey Shaffer allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six to earn the win, while Adalina Bracco drove in a pair of runs for the Jaguars.

Class 4A semifinals

• One of the top two-way players in the area, Shelby Telegdy struck out 10 while allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in six innings of work for No. 1 Elizabeth Forward in a 7-2 win against No. 4 Chartiers Valley at West Mifflin. Telegdy also tallied a pair of hits while Addy Nigut went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and Carlee Soukup drove in three. Lily Duffill went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer that briefly tied the score for the Colts in the fourth inning, but the Warriors responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and three more in the sixth to seal the victory.

• Marissa Snyder twirled a five-inning no-hitter with five strikeouts and went 2 for 3 with four RBIs to steer No. 2 Hampton to a convincing 10-0 victory against No. 11 Blackhawk. Albany recruit Charlotte Lomb added a solo homer for the Talbots, who are one win away from capturing their first WPIAL title.

Carmichaels’ Duski Staggers (3) and Alayna Simon (12) celebrate after Simon scored a go-ahead run against Chartiers-Houston in the WPIAL Class 1A semifinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at Montour. Chartiers-Houston won, 3-2. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)


Class 6A semifinals

Norwin 5, Hempfield 2

Seneca Valley 7, Canon-McMillan 1

Class 5A semifinals

Armstrong 8, Penn-Trafford 6

Thomas Jefferson 4, Latrobe 2

Class 4A semifinals

Elizabeth Forward 7, Chartiers Valley 2

Hampton 10, Blackhawk 0

Class 1A semifinals

Chartiers-Houston 3, Carmichaels 2

Union 10, West Greene 0

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

Steve Rotstein

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