Baldwin softball team captures Section 1 championship

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Saturday, May 12, 2018 | 1:42 AM


Baldwin shared section softball championships the past three seasons.

The Highlanders, with eight returning starters, stepped it up a notch in 2018, clinching sole possession of first place in Section 1-6A with an 10-2 record.

Baldwin (10-4 overall) stormed through the second half of the season on a nine-game winning streak, which included four shutouts. The Highlanders finished ahead of rivals Canon-McMillan (8-4), Bethel Park (7-5), Peters Township (7-5) and Mt. Lebanon (7-5) in the section standings.

They earned a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed and will play either Pine-Richland or Mt. Lebanon on Thursday.

Senior leadership this year has been provided by shortstop Taylor Dadig, catcher Carly Santillo, plus outfielders Bella Rossa, Emma Berta and Christina Madden.

“Our team has really come together since the start of the season,” said Rossa, the Highlanders' right fielder. “We know when there are crucial points in a game (that) we need to capitalize on and take advantage of.

“Prior to the season, we knew as a team we lost some big hitters, and we all had to step up to fill in. We have been successful in doing that throughout the season.”

Rossa, a three-year starter who also has played soccer at Baldwin, owns a 4.2 grade-point average. She is a member of the National Honor Society, daVincian Society, Math Club and Special Olympics program, and plans to attend Ohio University to study biological sciences.

“Personally, I have my ups and downs (in softball), but everyone is supportive of each other no matter what happens,” Rossa said. “We will enter the playoffs knowing what's at stake, and we will face some good teams. But if we play like we know how, we will be pretty hard to beat.”

Berta also has been a varsity starter in softball for three years. She has a 3.0 GPA, and plans to go to CCAC to study criminal justice.

“My season so far has been going good,” said the Highlanders' center fielder. “There are some mistakes here and there, but everyone has mistakes

“Some of our (team) goals were just to do the best we can, and try to win the section championship for the fourth year in a row.”

The Highlanders have advanced to the WPIAL playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, and naturally are looking forward to making a deep run in this year's tournament.

“We just want to do our best during the playoffs,” Berta said, “and just have lots of fun while playing the game.”

Madden is a reserve player who maintains a highly active extracurricular schedule at Baldwin.

She is a member of the Math League, Key Club, Special Olympics and Bridge Builders programs, National Art Honor Society, daVincian Society, Science Club, Spanish Club, and the senior class and yearbook staff.

“The team has done a great job so far this season,” Madden said. “Any mistakes we've made, we came back and practiced hard the next day. We expected to come in with a lot of dedication and hard work toward (winning) a WPIAL title. We also worked hard at earning the section title this year. Usually, we share with Canon-Mac, so there was even more motivation to get the extra wins.

“My senior year overall has been a roller-coaster. I do not usually switch from the outfield, but I'd work my hardest at any position if and when needed.”

Madden owns a 3.2 GPA and plans to attend Mercyhurst in the fall to major in biochemistry, with medial school to follow.

“I would like to be an oncologist,” she said.

Dadig is a fourth-year starter at shortstop and a George Mason recruit. She plans to major in engineering in college. In January, Dadig was presented with the prestigious KDKA Extra Effort Award.

Santillo, a Pitt-Johnstown recruit, also is a fourth-year starter at the catcher position.

Baldwin's four other returning starters this year were juniors Addie Tagg (P) and Salena Jaquay (DH); and sophomores Allison Murray (1B) and Cassie Carlson (2B).

The Highlanders ended Canon-McMillan's six-year reign as section champs in 2018, and have posted a 40-8 overall mark in section play over the past four seasons, going 10-2 each year.

Baldwin, which lost its final two regular-season games to Bethel Park and Hempfield, has captured 23 section championships in softball in school history.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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