It was the kind of postseason run every coach wants to go on and it was the kind of team that every coach wants to do it with.
North Allegheny, a tight-knit group of players, put together a special softball season this year.
The Tigers finished 18-6 overall. They won the Class AAAA Section 3 title with an 11-1 record. They reached the WPIAL championship game and PIAA playoffs for the first time since 2006.
After a 5-2 loss to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL final, North Allegheny regrouped and bounced back with a 5-3 win against District 9 champion DuBois Area in the PIAA first round. The Tigers, however, ran into the WPIAL champion Big Macs again in the PIAA quarterfinals and fell, 5-0.
"It is our goal every year to make the WPIAL championship game," North Allegheny coach Rick Meister said. "When you get to the title game, it makes for a special season but with this particular group of young ladies, it was a very special season."
The season got off to a so-so start. After a season-opening 4-3 win against Butler Area, the Tigers fell to section rival Shaler Area, 10-0. The team bounced back and went on an 11-game winning streak. The Shaler game would be the only time North Allegheny was on the wrong end of a blowout. The Tigers' other three regular-season losses were by a combined seven runs.
"This group remained focused all year long," Meister said. "They always took the next challenge and took it seriously and did a nice job."
Junior infielder Christine Scherer was a reflection of her coach's comments.
"We have had successful seasons in the past but everything was a little bit different this year," Scherer said. "The team really jelled, after the first practice together, everyone knew we had something special."
In the WPIAL playoffs North Allegheny received a first-round bye and then knocked off McKeesport and Peters Township to reach the WPIAL final.
"Overall, I thought we had an excellent season," Meister said. "We just ran into Canon-McMillan twice. If you are going to get to the championship game, you are going to play them eventually. We had our opportunities, we just didn't cash in."
North Allegheny created opportunities against Canon-McMillan senior pitcher Alayna Astuto. In the PIAA quarterfinals the Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning when Logann Woodley, Christine Scherer and Bonnie Pierson all singled, but they could not cash in.
Pierson, a starting catcher, along with left fielder Rachel Pecanis, are the only seniors on the team. The rest of the roster consists of two freshmen, seven sophomores and five juniors.
The returning nucleus consists of sophomore outfielder Laura Cotter, sophomore infielder/outfielder Anna Sardon, junior infielder Christine Scherer, junior infielder Mary Funderlich, freshman pitcher Madi Beining and her sister, junior pitcher Sami Beining.
Scherer had one of the best postseasons of anyone in the WPIAL. She was 11 for 18 at the plate over five games.
"Christine absolutely had a strong playoff run," Meister said. "She batted .611 and that is considering that we are talking about playoff pitching and competition.
"Overall this team competed -- we competed in every playoff game we were in, including the two we ultimately wound up losing."