Hempfield Outlasts Avon Grove For PIAA Crown In Extra Innings
Hempfield senior pitcher Morgan Ryan tossed her fifth consecutive playoff shutout and blanked Avon Grove, 1-0, in eight innings to help lift the Spartans to their second straight PIAA title. Avon Grove managed a third-inning hit but Ryan retired 16 batters in a row in a terrific pitcher’s duel.
Avon Grove starter, senior Maggie Balint, was nearly untouchable as well and punched out nine batters and held Hempfield without a hit through seven innings. Balint, an Oregon recruit and three-time Pennsylvania Player of the Year, finally ran into trouble in extra innings.
Balint surrendered a walk to Jordan Bernard to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. Jordan Sterling, who was pinch hit for by Bernard, returned to the game as a runner and advanced to second when Ali Belgiovane beat out an infield single for the Spartans first hit of the game. An Avon Grove error moments later loaded the bases with nobody out and Alexa Pastor followed with a game-winning sacrifice fly to score Sterling for a walk-off 1-0 victory.
The PIAA and WPIAL champion Hempfield Spartans conclude the season with a 25-2 record. Avon Grove, runners-up from District 1, end the year with a 24-4 mark.