At South Fayette High School, they hang banners in the gymnasium to mark each section championship won by its highly successful athletic teams.
It’s time for Joe Farkas, the Lions’ veteran athletic director, to finally order a banner for the girls softball team.
South Fayette won the first section championship in school history Tuesday afternoon with a convincing 10-0 win over Trinity in a showdown for first place in Section 2-AAA at Floral Hill Park.
Ashley Iagnemma pitched a stellar three-hit shutout and smacked a long solo home run, and third baseman Emily Bryan scored three runs, as South Fayette finished section play with an 11-1 record, one game better than Trinity (10-2).
“We finally have a banner,” one South Fayette assistant coach proudly yelled moments after the postgame handshakes.
The Lions (13-1) then went behind their dugout and head coach Vic Iagnemma pulled out a makeshift banner, a large white sheet on which “2014 Section Champions” had been spraypainted. South Fayette’s players, coaches and many of the Lions’ fans proudly posed for photographs with the banner.
“I go all the way back to 1970 as a student at South Fayette, and we’ve never won a title in softball,” Iagnemma confirmed. “We finally won one, and did it with an entire team effort. Ashley pitched an outstanding game, we got hitting from the top of the order to the bottom and we played the way you have to defensively to win championships.”
South Fayette’s hitters, with a little help from Trinity, gave Ashley Iagnemma the only runs she would need in the top of the first inning. Sara Jubis led off the game with a walk, advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Bryan’s swinging-bunt infield single was thrown away for a two-base error. Bryan made it 2-0 when he scored on a two-out wild pitch.
That was all the support Iagnemma required. The junior right-hander had 10 strikeouts against a usually potent Hillers lineup. Iagnemma was so dominant that Trinity hit only one ball that left the infield, that a flyout to center field by in the fifth inning by Emily Smith, the No. 9 hitter in the Hillers’ lineup.
“She pitched a very good game, a wonderful game,” Trinity coach Shawn Gray said of Iagnemma.
Jubis and Bryan hit consecutive singles in the third inning and came around to score, giving Iagnemma a 4-0 cushion to protect. The lone trouble spot for Iagnemma came in the third, when Kim Dunst drew a leadoff walk, and courtesy-runner Riley Riotta stole second base and moved to third on a passed ball with one out.
Iagnemma, however, struck out Olivia Gray, the Hillers’ junior leadoff hitter and a Pitt recruit, and Brooke Bell to end the threat.
“That was a huge part of the game,” Vic Iagnemma said. “We respect Olivia, and every team respects her. To strike her out and get out of the inning was a big lift for us. The entire team could feel it.”
South Fayette’s Marissa France, who later doubled, hit a triple and scored in the fourth, and Iagnemma hit her home run to center field in the fifth, making it 6-0.
The Lions tacked on four more runs in the seventh to sweep the season series from the Hillers.
Trinity (15-2) never generated momentum as its only hits were the infield variety. The Hillers had more than one baserunner in an inning only one time. Shawn Gray says his team might have been pressing after falling behind 4-0 early in the game.
“We got caught up in the moment, with all the fans here. This is the biggest turnout we’ve had for a game,” he said.
“We’ve always been able to fight back. We seem to a have bad start every game, but one good thing is the kids never let it bother them. They fight back. Obviously, today, we just couldn’t score.”
Gray reminded his team that a section title would have been nice, the Hillers still have an opportunity to play for other championships. The WPIAL playoffs begin next week.
“We came in here wanting to win, but we’ve got to put this one behind us and focus on the playoffs,” he said. “The good thing is, we saw good pitching against West Allegheny and South Fayette in the last week, and that’s the kind of pitching we’re going to see in the playoffs.”