New Castle News

Sports

June 14, 2013

PIAA Championship Preview: Neshannock to take on Williams Valley

NEW CASTLE — For the second straight season, a team entering the PIAA softball finals has ambitions of its first state title.

Last year, Neshannock High was looking for and found its first state gold, a 4-3 triumph over Warrior Run in Class AA.

Now, with this year’s title game just a day away, it’s the Lady Lancers who are hoping the trend of new champions doesn’t continue.

Enter Williams Valley — this year’s District 11 champions and opponent to Neshannock — in tomorrow’s PIAA Class A championship game, set for 3 p.m. at Penn State University’s Nittany Lion Softball Park.

Like the Lady Lancers last season, the Lady Vikings (22-4) are in pursuit of their first state title. In fact, this is the first state championship game appearance for Williams Valley in any sport in school history.

“I think what helped us last year, it wasn’t our first time playing there,” Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. “We had a little knowledge of what went on and how you were treated. We weren’t overwhelmed when we came down there for the championship game. The kids know the drill and what’s going on. Coming in for the first time, it might be a little bit overwhelming.”

The Lady Lancers, who dropped to Class A this season, played Philipsburg-Osceola at Penn State in the opening round of the Class AA state competition last year. The team ended up making three total trips to State College, including the championship game, after rain delayed the start of the Philipsburg-Osceola game, forcing Neshannock to drive back a day later.

“It’s an awesome place to play,” Kimmel added.  “You really feel like you’re playing for something. Their complex and stadium is second to none.”

The cross-state Lady Vikings may not have the championship experience the Lady Lancers (21-2) have, but they have the drive and the talent to win the game.

“The whole town is excited for the opportunity to participate,” coach Lee Reiser, a 20-year veteran of the program, said. “The girls are looking forward to it and excited to be there. We’re a young team. We don’t have a lot of seniors.  I feel the young players proved themselves throughout the season and have just gotten better and better.”

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