Only one team will bring home a PIAA state softball title for the first time in school history.
The Tunkhannock Tigers had an inkling they could be the one well before the postseason started.
“Pretty much in the preseason because we are a very close-knit team,” senior center fielder Paige Mokychic said. “We’ve been playing with each other for so long. We know how to work together and we knew this could be a good year. We just had a feeling.”
Whether the good vibes continue will be decided when District 2 champion Tunkhannock (19-5) plays District 7 third seed Mt. Pleasant (16-3) at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Nittany Lion Softball Park at Penn State University for the Class 4A state championship.
Neither program has ever made it this far. Mt. Pleasant won the D7-3A crown in 2016, only to be knocked off in the first round of states. Tunkhannock’s only other state tournament appearance came in 1999 and resulted in a first-round exit.
“They’re so excited. They’re having a blast,” Tunkhannock coach Bob Hegedty said. “I said it a couple weeks ago, they’re playing really loose right now. They know they’re having fun and there is no pressure on them. They’re taking it one game at a time, one out at a time and doing their best to keep moving on.”
Tunkhannock starts six sophomores and four seniors, but this wasn’t a team lacking experience coming into the season. Five of those sophomores started a freshmen when the Tigers won the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 title.
Tunkhannock finished in second place in Division 2 this year, with three of its four divisional losses by one run and the other in eight innings. The Tigers, though, won the D2-4A championship with three 3-0 victories. The offense found its groove in states as Tunkhannock has outscored its opponents 31-8.
Mt. Pleasant is similar to Tunkhannock in a couple ways. Tunkhannock uses two pitchers — sophomores Hope Jones and Kendra Schultz. So do the Vikings, who utilized junior Meadow Uncapher, who has verbally committed to Division I Seton Hall, and sophomore Caroline Alincic.
Uncapher pitched state victories over D10 champion Harbor Creek (3-0) and D7 champ Belle Vernon (5-4), with the latter avenging a semifinal loss in the District 7 tournament. Alincic was in the circle in a 7-2 state semifinal win against D7 runner-up Yough.
While Mt. Pleasant hasn’t posted offensive numbers like Tunkhannock, there is a common thread. Both have received production throughout the lineup in states.
Nikki Klejka had two RBI out of the seven hole against Harbor Creek. Addy Kubasky had two RBI hitting ninth against Belle Vernon. And the bottom four in the order each had an RBI against Yough.