UNIVERSITY PARK — At Minersville, the only thing they count is PIAA softball championships and over the years they’ve had plenty.
After Friday, the Battling Miners are running out of fingers on both hands.
Minersville (24-3) won its ninth state crown Friday, knocking off District 6 runner-up Claysburg-Kimmel 4-1.
“Every game we play we’re the target — Schuylkill League, districts, states,” Minersville coach Dave Homa said. “We’re Minersville. We’re used to that. What happens in the postseason is you can see that we’re used to this kind of competition, that pressure. The other teams seem a little tight at the beginning where we’re a little looser. That helped us today.”
Riley Gerenda shut out the Lady Bulldogs on two hits through six innings before a rainstorm forced a delay of 80 minutes as Nittany Lion Softball Park was evacuated.
When the delay was over, Claysburg-Kimmel mounted a two-out rally and scored one, but had a runner thrown out at the plate on a single to left field to end the game.
The numbers for Minersville are staggering, but Homa can easily click them off — 38 straight winning seasons, 21 district titles, 31 division titles and now 9 state titles.
“It’s a little like the Yankees,” he said of his program, which last won a crown in 2011.
Meanwhile, the Lady Bulldogs (22-5) were making there first appearance in a PIAA title game. In fact even though they lost, they still had their picture taken under the Beard Field scoreboard on Friday.
They fell behind early and never recovered.
Minersville freshman sensation Adrienne Kroznuskie, who came into the game, hitting .589, beat out a ground ball, swiped second and eventually scored on Morgen Woodford’s two-out single.
The Battling Miners scored three more in the second. Reighly Melochick singled home one run and two more scored as a Claysburg-Kimmel infielder and outfielder had the ball go between their legs on Lindsey Snyder’s hard grounder.
That was plenty for Gerenda, who will pitch at Albright. She racked up seven strikeouts over the final five innings.
“Riley threw phenomenal,” said catcher Woodford. “She pitched her heart out today and she’s so excited that she has two gold medals.”
“I thought once we had four runs, Riley really settled into her game,” Homa said. “We were pretty comfortable the rest of the way through it.”
Down to their last out, the Lady Bulldogs made it interesting in the seventh. Pinch-hitter Katelyn Gerheim singled home Hannah Claycomb, who had doubled. With runners at first and second, Madison Ickes singled to left, but Christina Wannyn was cut down on a relay throw to the plate to end the game.
“It was a mistake on my part,” Claysburg-Kimmel coach Mike Barbarini said. “I never should have sent her.”
Lady Bulldog pitcher Kiersten Coho held a Minersville team which had been averaging nearly 12 runs a game in PIAA play to a third of that total. She allowed nine hits, walked one and struck out four.
“She threw well,” Barbarini said. “She kept them off-balance and jammed a few.”
Barbarini was proud of his club. “All year we played together and that’s why we got to this point.”