2022 Trib HSSN Head of the Class: Softball Player and Coach of the Year for each classification
Friday, June 24, 2022 | 8:17 PM
This spring, those sitting at head of the softball class had a clear view of so many individual and team standout performances.
A perfect season, two schools winning both district and state gold, two schools winning their first WPIAL championships and one school closing the book on a historic title run.
Trib HSSN salutes all the players and coaches for their great work on the softball diamond in 2022, but these players and coaches receive a special gold star on the forehead, a tip of the cap and a seat up front as they are at the head of the class.
Player of the Year: Deirdre Flaherty, Mt. Lebanon
The junior catcher, who can also play first base and third base, is not only one of the top power hitters in the district, but in the state with 24 home runs in her two-year scholastic career. Flaherty played a big part in the Blue Devils winning their first section championship in 12 years. She has lots of college interest and is looking at several Ivy League schools.
Coach of the Year: Marleese Hames, Seneca Valley
On April 27, Seneca Valley had just lost a third straight game to drop to 5-6 overall. Plus, the Raiders were outscored in two of those section losses by a combined score of 20-1. Then something clicked for first-year coach Marleese Hames, and the Raiders did not lose again until the PIAA title game. Seneca Valley earned its third WPIAL championship on the 30-year anniversary of winning its first when Hames was a player.
Player of the Year: Mia Smith, Penn-Trafford
The senior pitcher contributed with her arm and bat in helping Penn-Trafford win a section title and finish as the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up. Smith had double-digit strikeouts in each of the Warriors’ three WPIAL playoff wins and finished with a 44-8 career record. She will continue her softball career at Pitt-Johnstown.
Coach of the Year: Doug Flanders, Armstrong
To say the River Hawks softball program is flying high is an understatement. In the last two seasons, Flanders’ Armstrong teams have played in all four WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A title games. In 2021, they lost to North Hills and Lampeter-Strasburg in the finals. In 2022, they won their first WPIAL championship with a dramatic win over Penn-Trafford before losing to undefeated Pittston in the PIAA final.
Player of the Year: Payton List, Beaver
The senior pitcher concluded a brilliant career with another dominant season in the circle as well as at the plate. The two-time Trib HSSN Player of the Year led the Bobcats to a second straight WPIAL Class 4A championship and a long winning streak that ended in a loss to Clearfield in the state semifinals. The three-sport star will play her college softball at Virginia Tech.
Coach of the Year: Amy Haggart, Beaver
Coming off an undefeated season with the best player in the district returning, there was a giant bullseye on the back of the Beaver uniforms this season. Unfazed, the Bobcats took care of business and nearly duplicated their perfect season from the previous year. Haggart’s squad repeated as WPIAL champion, but their 42-game win streak ended with a loss to Clearfield in the PIAA final four.
Player of the Year: Leah Kuban, Avonworth
The sophomore outfielder was one of several 10th graders who played key roles in Avonworth sweeping district and state gold this spring. She was a big contributor to a high-scoring offense and showed off her power in the PIAA postseason with a couple of key home runs in the Antelopes’ first-round and semifinals victories.
Coach of the Year: Jenna Muncie, Avonworth
The four seniors on the Avonworth roster, three of which were starters, ended their career with bookend WPIAL championships in 2019 and 2022. The additional bonus was also winning the school’s first PIAA championship in any sport. However, Muncie’s crew was a perfect mix of experience and youth as a talented sophomore class played a big role in the team’s golden sweep this spring.
Player of the Year: Maddie Griffin, Ligonier Valley
The senior pitcher enjoyed another dominant campaign in the circle before a late-season injury. Griffin was near the top of the district in wins and strikeouts in helping the Rams win a Section 2-2A crown, but she could not play in the WPIAL playoff opener due to injury, and No. 3 Ligonier Valley was stunned by Bentworth. She will continue her softball career at Youngstown State.
Coach of the Year: Jackie Lash, Neshannock
Call it the dream season, the golden season, the perfect season. This spring was magical for a Neshannock program that might only be getting started. With only one senior on the roster, Lash put her trust in many young players and they came through big time. Many sophomores and freshman helped the Lancers win their third WPIAL championship and second PIAA crown with a perfect 26-0 record.
Player of the Year: Mia Pruehs, Union
The freshman pitcher made quite the scholastic debut in 2022 in helping her team finally reach the district summit. Pruehs had 33 strikeouts in the Scotties’ three WPIAL playoff wins that ended with Union capturing its first district championship. She also had 15 strikeouts in the final game of the season, a state quarterfinals loss to Saegertown.
Coach of the Year: Billy Simms, West Greene
The run is done. After losing twice in the 2019 and 2021 WPIAL Class A championship games, Union finally captured gold by dethroning West Greene, 3-2. The Pioneers won their section (again) and finished the season at 15-5, but the loss in the finals ended an incredible run for Simms’ squad, which won five straight WPIAL championships, tying Hempfield and Sto-Rox for most in district softball history.
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