month of June 2011 most likely will never be forgotten by the New Kensington
(Pennsylvania) Valley High School softball team and everyone associated with
of all, on June 17, the Vikings won their first-ever state softball title when
they defeated Manheim Central, 3-1, for the 2011 Pennsylvania Interscholastic
Athletic Association (PIAA) Class AAA championship.
pivotal contest was played at Penn State University’s Beard Field at the
Nittany Lion Softball Park in State College, Pennsylvania. It also marked the
first state title for Valley High School in any sport since the boys basketball
team won the 1979 PIAA state title.
12 days later on June 29 some 153 miles to the east, the Valley High School
softball team, along with umpire Bill Dithrich, will be conferred the 2011
National High School Spirit of Sport Award.
award will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 92nd
Annual NFHS Summer Meeting, which will be held in Franklin Hall B in the
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown hotel.
Valley High School softball team and Dithrich are being honored for what
occurred during the 2010 PIAA softball playoffs and afterward.
of last year’s PIAA Class AA quarterfinal games, Dithrich was the umpire who
made a catcher’s balk call that resulted in the winning run being scored in
Valley High School’s 5-4 loss to Wilmington.
interesting twist, the Valley High School Booster Club subsequently invited
Dithrich to be the guest speaker at the year-end athletic banquet. There,
Dithrich spoke about the great sportsmanship exhibited by the Valley High
School softball team and the life lessons learned by all.
yet another interesting twist, Dithrich was present in the stands June 17 to
witness Valley High School winning the 2011 state title.
Nealer, who pitched the 2010 quarterfinal game, was dominant in this year’s
title game, as she tossed a one-hitter, had 10 strikeouts, and walked just one
the game, the softball team members and coaching staff arrived back in New
Kensington late that night, where they were greeted by approximately 40 fire trucks,
ambulances and cars that escorted them through town. In addition, a huge crowd
waited for them at the high school to help the Vikings celebrate their state