In its first three WPIAL playoff games, the Carmichaels softball team gave up a total of eight hits. But Neshannock reached that total by the third inning Thursday.
That fact gives an indication of how the WPIAL Class A championship game played out at California University's Lilley Field. Neshannock went batty, beating Carmichaels, 10-4, for the first WPIAL softball championship in school history.
Neshannock (18-2) put on an impressive offensive display against Carmichaels pitcher Erica Burns, who had not allowed a run in three previous playoff games. Neshannock finished with 16 hits, and the 10 runs were the most in a Class A final since the classification was formed in 1999.
But the hit parade shouldn't come as a surprise. Neshannock came in averaging 12 runs a game and scored in double figures in 16 of 19 contests.
"We have good hitters one through nine in our lineup," said Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel. "I tell people that our No. 9 hitter would probably hit in the middle of the order for most teams. Some of these teams haven't seen this type of hitting in Class A."
Alexandra Fischer led the Neshannock offense with three hits and three RBIs. Marissa DeMatteo also had three hits, including a double and triple, and two RBIs. Madison Altmyer, Katelyn Burrelli, Madison Shaffer and Marissa Kirkwood all had two hits.
After a scoreless first inning, Neshannock took control by scoring six runs on five hits in the second. Shaffer brought home the first two runs with a two-run triple. DeMatteo added a two-run triple later in the inning.
"We try to get our kids to jump on teams early, especially in the playoffs," Kimmel said. "Teams get down four, five or six runs they start to tighten up."
Shaffer, a sophomore, had an RBI double in the third and Kirkwood brought home a run with a single to make it 8-0. Shaffer held Carmichaels (21-3) to five hits and struck out 12 in lifting her record to 18-2.
Carmichaels had only one hit through the first five innings but scored twice in the fifth and sixth to make it respectable. Burns had a two-run double in the sixth inning.
"A lot of eyes were on [Shaffer] this year because a lot of people knew we had eight starters back from last year's [PIAA championship] team," Kimmel said. "We only had to replace our pitcher and she's really done a fine job this year."