Kirsten Wilson said her grandfather once asked her to sign a photo of herself, which, of course, she did.
But, when opposing teams have wanted to score some runs against Wilson and her Riverside teammates in the PIAA playoffs, the answer continues to be a resounding "No!"
When Riverside (22-0) takes on Brandywine Heights (26-2) today in the PIAA Class AA softball championship, the Panthers will try to become only the second WPIAL team to win the title without giving up a run in any of their PIAA playoff games.
The Panthers also are seeking their first PIAA title, which would make them the first team from the WPIAL to win a PIAA championship with an undefeated record since Bishop Canevin in 1999.
Riverside will join Canon-McMillan and Neshannock as WPIAL teams competing for championships at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Penn State. It's the first time three WPIAL teams have advanced this far since 2003.
No more than two have won a championship in the same season.
The only WPIAL team to team to complete the playoffs without having allowed a run was North Allegheny in 2002.
Riverside owns shutouts against Curwensville, 6-0, Ligonier Valley, 13-0, and Philipsburg-Osceola, 2-0.
Of course, in order to score a run, it helps to get players on base. With Wilson on the mound, that's a tough task. She allowed one hit in those three games, throwing a perfect game, a one-hitter and a no-hitter.
"I've been feeling really good," Wilson said. "I come out trying 100 percent. I have confidence in my defense, so if the other team gets a hit, I know they got my back."
The stinginess is nothing new for Riverside, which has shut out 14 of its past 15 opponents. Only three teams have scored against Riverside this season. Wilson (254 strikeouts), a senior, is arguably the best pitcher in the WPIAL.
Brandywine Heights will pose a stiff test for Riverside. The Bullets average nine runs per game and have been shut out only twice the past two seasons. The District 3 champions reached the PIAA title game courtesy of a 5-4, 10-inning win against Holy Redeemer in the semifinals. Junior Amanda Hess had three of the Bullets' 14 hits.
This is a matchup of teams that have been the runner-up in all their PIAA championship appearances. Riverside has done it three times and Brandywine Heights four.
Canon-McMillan (24-1) could find itself in the middle of a pitching duel against District 1 runner-up Neshaminy (23-2).
Canon-McMillan has yielded four runs in six postseason games and surrendered more than two runs only three times this season. Senior pitcher Alayna Astuto is 24-0 with 125 strikeouts.
Neshaminy will counter with senior Lauren Quense, a Fordham recruit who tossed a perfect game and struck out 15 in the quarterfinals. The Redskins have shut out four of their past six opponents.
Sophomore Abby McCartney is swinging a hot bat for Canon-McMillan, homering in each of its past two games. She also drove in three runs while leading the Big Macs to a 3-1 semifinal win against Pennsbury.
Canon-McMillan is making its first PIAA championship game appearance.
This is the third trip to the finals for Neshaminy. The Redskins lost to North Allegheny in 2002, but avenged that loss by defeating the Tigers a year later.
Neshannock (21-2) will try to become the first WPIAL team to win consecutive PIAA titles when it takes on District 11 champion Williams Valley (22-4).
Neshannock, the WPIAL champion, is the only 2012 PIAA champion or finalist to make it back to the title game.
What's interesting is that the Lancers won the Class AA championship last season. Madison Altmyer, now a junior, scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning to give the Lancers the 4-3 victory in 2012.
Sophomore pitcher Madison Shaffer pitched a four-hitter for Neshannock in the semifinals. She has 194 strikeouts this season.
Williams Valley has a youthful lineup. The Vikings, in the final for the first time, start five sophomores and two freshmen.
Junior Kylie Doyle has driven in a team-high 31 runs.
First Published June 14, 2013 4:00 AM