So close, yet so far away.
The Neshannock High softball team was stopped one game short in its quest for a third-straight appearance in the state championship game yesterday when it dropped a heartwrenching 5-4 decision in eight innings to Claysburg-Kimmel in the PIAA Class A semifinals at Hempfield Area High School.
“It’s been a fun three years,” Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. “It’s just so hard to repeat. We won two WPIALs in a row. Last year after we won the WPIAL, it was like ‘Did we win something here today’ after winning the state title the year before. This year, it meant a lot because we repeated. We’ll get over this one. It will make us work that much harder.
“We’re going to look back at the good times. No one can take that away from us. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been on the right side of things a lot of the time. We’re already looking forward to next year. I’m sure we’ll be talking about it on the bus on the way home.”
For the first time since 1997, the WPIAL will not have a softball team playing for a PIAA championship.
“This is a very disappointing loss,” Kimmel said. “This is one of the more disappointing ones in my career here. We had a shot to go back and try to win another championship, but this year, it’s not going to happen.
“We know when we get to this point there’s going to be a winner and a loser. You have to be able to accept losing. I believe that. You’re not going to win every time. There’s no way. There’s too much against you.”
Neshannock (18-3) will lose shortstop Madison Altmyer and first baseman Alexandra Fischer to graduation.
“We’re gonna miss those two,” Kimmel said. “Al has been a mainstay for us for all four years. I think we tried her at third base for like five minutes her freshman year. Man, she was just as tall back then. I went out the next day and bought her a first baseman’s mitt. She’s saved us a lot of runs. She’s a really good ball player.”
“Maddie has been a good player for us, too. She’s had to overcome a torn ACL. She didn’t play for us in ninth grade. The past two years, she’s had to wear a brace. She’s always had a real good bat. We’re going to miss her. She’ll go down in history. In 2012, she led off the eighth inning with a triple (in the state championship game). She’ll always be in the talk.”
So close, yet so far away.
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