NEW CASTLE —
Neshannock pitcher Madison Shaffer tossed 10 regular-season shutouts, including a 13-0 perfect game against Western Beaver. The team added another shutout against Serra Catholic in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs.
Coach Tracy Kimmel’s club also defeated Frazier and Carmichaels en route to the program’s first WPIAL championship. The Lady Lancers downed Elk County Catholic, Claysburg-Kimmel and Southern Huntingdon in the state tournament before falling to Williams Valley.
Shaffer finished the season with a 21-3 record and struck out 199 batters, while senior outfielder Rayanna Furst pounded out 46 hits, scored 40 runs and drove in another 24. The Robert Morris recruit also posted the county’s top average (.568).
The rest of the line-up was no slouch either with Marissa DeMatteo (.529), Alexandra Fischer (.492), Jamie Graziani (.486), Katie Burrelli (.391) and Madison Altmyer (.380) all providing a boost to the Neshannock offense.
DeMatteo, Fischer, Furst and Shaffer all earned recognition on the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches All-State team.
“(It) was a great season,” Kimmel told The News in June. “We had a lot of pressure on us from the beginning. We were the defending champs in Double-A and we dropped down. Everybody was saying you should walk right through these teams. You still have to play the games. There’s good teams at every level.”
•The baseball team missed out on the playoffs by dropping a 7-0 decision to Section 5-AA rival Laurel in what amounted to a play-in game for the final berth out of the section.
It marked the first time the Lancers didn’t advance to the playoffs since 2006 after coach Mike Kirkwood’s squad claimed the 2011 and 2012 WPIAL Class A titles.
“We know if you come out of this section, I don’t care if you finish first or third, you have a shot at winning a WPIAL title,” Kirkwood told The News in May. “I told the kids, we kind of made our bed and we have to lay in it. We lost to some teams that maybe we weren’t really focused to play. Whatever the case may be .... it bit us.”