UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Last season, a passed ball in extra innings gave Neshannock the PIAA Class AA softball title.
This season, the Lancers' own mistakes led to a 13-0, six-inning loss against District 11 Williams Valley in the Class A championship game at Nittany Lion Softball Park.
The game was tight through the first three innings as Neshannock sophomore Madison Shaffer and Williams Valley junior Cassidy Pinchorski held batters hitless.
But the wheels came off for Neshannock (21-3) in innings four through six as Lancers pitchers gave up nine hits, nine walks and hit a batter before the game was ended by the mercy rule.
"I wasn't happy with my performance," a distraught Shaffer said. "[My control] was off, definitely. We didn't play our best game. Our offense wasn't there, our defense wasn't there, but you have to give them credit."
Vikings coach Lee Reiser described his mindset as "lots of nervousness" facing a reigning champion in Neshannock, but he never doubted his team.
"I was hearing everything about how good they were and how are going play with them?" Reiser said.
"I just kept saying: We had a tough schedule. We played tough teams. Our league's incredible ... playing those kinds of teams all year gets you ready for this."
Shaffer broke up Pinchorski's no-hit bid in the fifth, but the Lancers couldn't capitalize, instead lining into a double play.
"When you get down three runs in a game like this, the pressure's going to start to mount," Neshannock coach Tracy Kimmel said. "When they got up three runs, it was a little tough, then they come right back with four more ... "
Pinchorski went 2 for 3 as the cleanup hitter and allowed just three hits over six shutout innings, walking one and striking out one.
"Cassidy was [great], and I thought she would be," Reiser said. "I didn't know if they saw any pitching like she's been doing. She's been on fire through the whole playoffs."
Williams Valley scored three runs in the fourth, four in the fifth and six in the sixth. Neshannock switched pitchers during the slide, but, eventually, put Shaffer back in.
Nick Veronica: email@example.com and Twitter @NickVeronica.