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A Season for the Ages

The Armstrong varsity softball team fell just short in the PIAA 5A championship game, but their run in 2021 will be forever etched into the program's history books

By Josh Shreckengost

The Armstrong River Hawks varsity softball team pose following their PIAA 5A runner-up finish at Penn State last week. The team went 18-6 en route to finishing second in the state, by far the best season in program history. Photo courtesy of the Armstrong River Hawks Softball Facebook page.

Kittanning, Pa. -- Doug Flanders knew his team would be good in 2021, but the Armstrong varsity softball head coach had no idea just how good.

Flanders took over a struggling program, but he and his team lost the 2020 season due to the pandemic. With a young, unproven squad full of talent, it was anybody's guess how the River Hawks would play in 2021.

"I thought we had a good team, I just didn't know how good we would be," Flanders said. "I knew our offense would be tough and I knew we had a lot of really talented girls and they just kept getting better and better as the year went on and their confidence kept growing with every win."

The River Hawks wasted little time putting the WPIAL on notice when they homered three times in the team's home opener, a 5-2 win against Freeport all the way back on March 26. Over the next two and a half months, Armstrong mashed a team record 43 home runs and powered their way to the program's first-ever WPIAL and PIAA playoff appearances.