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Pittston Area softball team gears up for its second state title

Pittston Area's softball team stretches before their last practice ahead of the state championship game on June 13.
Lydia McFarlane
/
WVIA News
Pittston Area's softball team stretches before their last practice ahead of the state championship game on June 13.

Center fielder Lili Hintzle called her teammates off with shouts of “mine, mine, mine!"

Pittston Area High School’s head softball coach, Frank Parente, looked on. His team had just taken the field Wednesday for its final practice before the PIAA’s 5A state championship tomorrow.

In Parente’s fifth year in charge, his Patriots team battled through inexperience and growing pains, all while being led by a wealth of talent on the mound.

Throughout it all, the team found support in the Pittston community. They cheered them along every step of the way, even when the team seemed to struggle early in the season.

Lili Hintze, center fielder, left; Gianna Adams, pitcher; Gabby Gorzkowski, first base; and Coach Frank Parente prepare with the rest of Pittston Area's softball team at one last practice before the June 13's state championship game at Penn State University.
Lydia McFarlane
/
WVIA News
Lili Hintze, center fielder, left; Gianna Adams, pitcher; Gabby Gorzkowski, first base; and Coach Frank Parente prepare with the rest of Pittston Area's softball team at one last practice before the June 13's state championship game at Penn State University.

“We were very inexperienced in almost every position… the hope was always with an incredible pitcher that everybody would be able to get more comfortable… As the year went on, we would gel at the right time,” Parente said.

Parente’s “incredible pitcher” is senior Gianna Adams. She is a two-time 5A pitcher of the year with an earned run average of 0.33 and a record of 20-1 in starts this year. That helped lead the Patriots through the unsteady early portion of the season. After Adams gave up a hit in the team's sixth game of the season, Parente used it as a teaching moment.

“You have to get hit in the face once in a while,” Parente said, “You can’t get scared. You have to fight back.”

Parente’s talk worked. The young players began to make big plays, helping Adams whenever she would make a rare mistake. Soon, the team stormed through the PIAA playoff bracket, securing its place in the championship game with a 2-0 win over South Western. The win meant that Pittston Area will face Thomas Jefferson High School in the state championship game.

For junior first baseman Gabby Gorzkowski, the Pittston fans are paramount.

“They support us so much — beginning to end. We always have a ton of fans here cheering us on and it’s really good to have that support because it pushes us to be better not only for ourselves, but for our community," she said.

Parente also noted how the community has helped the team achieve success this year.

“The neat thing about this year is the support in Pittston is always going to be incredible, like, wow, they just love their teams and support their teams. But this year? The difference this year is it really seems to be reaching out beyond just the Pittston area,” Parente said.

When the Patriots leave for their match tomorrow, they will be sent off with a police escort and a swarm of Pittston fans following them to Penn State’s Nittany Lion Softball Park, where the final will be played at 4 p.m.

Gorzkowski hopes that the crowd will motivate the players before the game.

“They’ll definitely keep our energy up,” she said. “I’m just really excited.”

Gorkowski’s nervous excitement is no stranger to Adams. She pitched a shutout to win the state championship in 2022. Now, as a senior, Adams says that her experience in a championship game has helped her prepare for her final high school game.

“The upperclassmen who have been there can lead the underclassmen who haven’t been there, and we can use that as motivation to relax some nerves that people may have," she said.

While Pittston Area prepares for its match tomorrow, Parente is confident in his team’s ability to win its second state title in the past 5 years.

“We’re ready to roll. We’re ready to roll for sure,” Parente said.

To watch the state championship games, visit pcntv.com.

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