West Allegheny seniors get one last game at PIAA softball final
By: Joe Sager
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 | 5:21 PM
History may not be the favorite class for the seniors on West Allegheny's softball team.
Yet, they're doing a good job writing it.
The six Indians seniors — Ashley Seamon, Jillian Weber, Amy Nolte, Mackenzie Partyka, Taylor Cummings and Taylor Goldstrom — hope their final chapter is the best one yet when West Allegheny (23-1) takes on Lampeter-Strasburg (22-5) for PIAA Class 5A gold at 4 p.m. Thursday at Penn State's Nittany Lion Softball Park.
“This senior class has kind of been the pioneer of establishing this program,” West Allegheny coach Mindi McFate said. “They were the first team to make it to the WPIAL championship and first to win it. They were the first team to win back-to-back championships and, now, they're the first to play for a state championship. They've outdone themselves making school history and making a name for themselves.”
Though West Allegheny's seniors have a 79-11 record, the team's progression has been steady. It really took off the past two seasons. After a WPIAL championship game appearance in 2015, the Indians claimed the last two titles. They fell in the PIAA semifinals last year, but prevailed this season with a 7-5 come-from-behind win over Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday. A four-run sixth inning erased a 5-3 deficit and propelled the squad past the Jaguars.
“I have an incredible amount of pride for these kids. They are resilient and tough. They battle. They are just good kids. I feel like I tell people that all the time,” McFate said. “I've coached enough years that I've had some nice players, but some not nice teams because they were not all team players. This group is the epitome of what you want to see in sports. They work hard, treat each other with respect and have a ton of character. It's very nice to see them have this opportunity.
“Emotions were definitely running high in the dugout after the win. There were a lot of tears of joy and hugging and screaming and yelling. They are absolutely elated.”
While the seniors play a big role at the plate and in the field — Weber (first), Nolte (second), Cummings (shortstop) Partyka (third), Seamon (pitcher) and Goldstrom (center field) — other players contribute, as well. Sophomores Britney Wilson (catcher) and Savannah Lewis (left field) and freshmen Angela Costa (right field) and Megan Pollinger (designated player) start as well.
“All teams have their ups and down, but one of the things that makes this group very unique is that, one through nine, any one of our kids can come up with a big day,” McFate said. “Most teams have maybe two or three good hitters and, if one has a bad day, that could really throw them off. At any point, anyone in our lineup can have a big day; you just don't know where that big game is coming from. It does make you a little harder to beat because teams are not really sure where that big out needs to be made.”
Seamon leads the way in the pitching circle for West Allegheny. She is headed to Penn State Behrend in Erie with Nolte and both plan on playing softball. However, they'd like to close their high school careers with a win.
“Ashley is a competitor. She struggled a little (against Thomas Jefferson). I told her, ‘Who hates to lose more than you? Nobody. Stick with the process and what you know. Don't try to overthink yourself,' ” McFate sad. “She has been a solid presence for us. The fact that she is such a competitor, I think that plays into everybody's favor.”
While the season — and chapter — ends Thursday, West Allegheny wants to ensure a positive finish.
“I really have been incredibly blessed to be part of this. I have an amazing coaching staff. It's a real family atmosphere. Some of these kids have been playing together since T-ball. We know we're all in this together,” McFate said. “I told the seniors that, once they get in the playoffs, they don't always know when it will be their last game. Well, these seniors get the privilege of knowing this is their last high school game, and they can leave it all on the field.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
Tags: West Allegheny