2023 Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Year: Seneca Valley’s Lexie Hames

Friday, June 30, 2023 | 2:03 PM

2023 Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Year

Lexie Hames

School: Seneca Valley

Class: Sophomore

Fear is an emotion that can be a great motivator in sports. It can force great success or lead the way to epic failures.

When it comes to high school softball, fear can lead to great frustration. Not for opponents, but for the player they fear.

The elite scholastic hitters must deal with the fact they are going to see few pitches to hit, and thus fewer attempts to do what they do best — hit the softball hard and far.

While Seneca Valley sophomore Lexie Hames has had to deal with that frustration at the plate, she has forced frustration on many opposing hitters halfway through her scholastic career, becoming one of the elite pitchers in the state after only two seasons.

“What stood out to me about Lexie this season was her maturity as a pitcher,” said Seneca Valley coach and Lexie’s mom, Marlesse Hames said. “We all are able to see her ability to move the ball and her speed, which she has really worked on in the offseason, but her maturity on the mound is amazing for just being a sophomore.

“She learns the batters and the lineup. She will call me off on a pitch because she knows what is working better against that batter. She also will tell me that she walked a batter because the next batter or batters had been struggling against her. She just adjusts what she needs to. Her command on the mound is just amazing.”

Hames finished the season with a record of 17-2, 0.45 ERA and 0.48 WHIP. In 122 innings pitched, she faced 445 batters and struck out 269 of them. She allowed 30 walks and 25 hits, and opposing hitters batted .066 against her.

“One thing Lexie needs to work on as a pitcher will be keep working spin and just perfecting the little things in her pitching motion,” Coach Hames said. “When talking to her pitching coach, he said he will be working on location of her fastball and spins and perfecting some little things in her pitching motion. I can’t wait to see what she brings next season.”

Mt. Lebanon played Seneca Valley twice this spring. The Raiders sophomore came to the plate to hit eight times and was walked by the Blue Devils seven times. The one time she did get a chance to hit, she launched a two-run homer.

“We took the approach that someone else in their lineup was going to have to beat us offensively,” Mt. Lebanon coach Casey Phillips said. “We knew runs were going to be hard to come by with her in the circle. She’s obviously an extremely dangerous hitter with great hand speed and power. She understands the strike zone and can flip the game in an instant. She’s a Power-5 talent who will only get better.”

Hames batted .343 with five home runs and 14 RBIs. She had a .738 on-base percentage and a 1.7 OPS. In 66 plate appearances, she had only 28 at-bats. She had 36 walks, most of them intentional.

Hames is enjoying traveling and playing softball this summer. She has a couple of months to relax and have fun on diamond across the country before the recruiting process begins.

“Coaches cannot contact her until Sept. 1,” Coach Hames said. “She has had a ton of coaches watching her when she is playing travel ball on the national circuit. She has a lot of interest from coaches and her travel coach has said that Sept. 1 will be fun.

“Lexie is very excited and nervous for Sept. 1 and for the process to begin.”

Before the excitement begins, Hames took time for a Trib HSSN Player of the Year Q&A:

How tough was it to fall short of repeating as WPIAL champions?

It was a super tough loss, but I’m super proud of my team and how they played and that they never stopped fighting, they made some incredible plays. But, Hempfield is a super tough opponent and they are an extremely respectable team. It was a hard-fought game from both sides.

Did it make it worse to make the district finals, yet not get a shot at participating in the PIAA playoffs?

I think it is unfair that some classes get to take two or even up to four teams to PIAA finals while 6A is only offered one. While I understand 6A’s section is small, I believe they should still receive the opportunity to take two teams from WPIALs to compete in the state playoffs. Hempfield’s position was well-deserved, absolutely, but the broader spectrum of the WPIAL having an equal number of opportunities presented in each class should be considered.

Do you get a little more excited when you go up against another elite pitcher?

Absolutely. Going up against another elite pitcher only pushes me to better my game. I love the adrenaline and energy two elite pitchers going head-to-head gives off. It not only makes the game more fun to watch, but also pushes me to perform at my best.

How old were you when you realized you were good at softball?

When I joined and played on my first national team, the Beverly Bandits, I realized I could compete on the national level. I started to get looks from colleges and finally started believing in my abilities as a player. I started to realize that I am good enough to play on the national circuit and compete at a high level.

What were your expectations as a sophomore after having such great success as a freshman?

High expectations and an extremely competitive atmosphere. As a freshman being able to contribute and perform for our team last year, and celebrate the success we had was amazing. The harder thing was coming back for year two, and trying to live up to the high expectations everyone had. The extremely competitive atmosphere each team brought was expected; it pushed me to a level I honestly didn’t know I had. Coming into this season I expected it to be 10 times harder, and I had to be 11 times better.

What’s it like playing high school ball for your mom?

I love it. She knows me inside and out. She knows my strengths, weaknesses, best pitches, worst pitches, etc. She pushes me to be the best player I can be along with everyone else on the team. I wouldn’t be at the level I am today without her, hands down.

Did you have a personal highlight from the 2023 season?

I think my personal highlight from this season would be braiding everyone’s hair on the way to the games and during all of my study halls during the day. That was definitely fun and I never failed to have hand cramps. Also, hitting a three-run home run and having 18 strikeouts to win the sections was pretty cool.

What’s a better feeling, a dominant pitching performance with lots of strikeouts or hitting a game-winning home run?

This is definitely hard. I would probably say the dominant pitching game because it feeds energy to the rest of the team and I love when we are all hype and energetic at the same time. We are very successful this way and it is super fun to be a part of.

How is the recruiting process going and do you plan to make a decision early or wait?

The recruiting process is a very fun experience. I love traveling with my team, getting to see new places, making lifelong friends who you might play with in college. It’s super exciting to get on campus and talk with the coaches at your dream colleges and actually visualize yourself there. It’s a surreal experience. I don’t know what Sept. 1 is going be like, but I am excited for the journey ahead.

Favorite team: Steelers, Penguins or Pirates?

My favorite team is probably the Pirates. Now, I know they haven’t had the best record; however, I think they are doing really good this season especially with Andrew McCutchen back, so I will go with them.

Favorite pizza topping and your pizza place of choice?

My favorite pizza place of choice is Domino’s, not completely because of the pizza but because of the garlic knot things they have. It’s so good.

Favorite type of music and top three performers/groups/bands on your hit list?

I love country music, absolutely love it. I have a playlist that is a good 17 hours long. I love Zach Bryan and Morgan Wallen, they are definitely my top two.

Famous person from history you would have liked to have dined and chatted with?

I would have loved to talk with the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth the II. She lived for a very long time. I would be interested in all of her life experiences, challenges, problems and successes. I think we could definitely talk for a long time. Plus having a dinner in a palace would pretty amazing.

How long could you go without your phone?

I feel like I couldn’t go without my phone for a long time. But it’s because I am an extremely outgoing and social person. So, I wouldn’t be able to reach a lot of my friends, or talk to them. Also, I wouldn’t be able to post on Twitter for recruiting or email schools, so I don’t think that would go too well. I guess I could use my iPad, but I think that’s the same thing as my phone.

Rank these from favorite to least favorite: summer, autumn, winter, spring?

First autumn because it’s the perfect mix of hot days and cold days, and the trees are very colorful and pretty. Then summer, because no school and travel season is the perfect mix. Also, the weather is warm all the time which is a benefit. Then winter, because I absolutely love snow, but the cold gets old really quick. So, it gets third. Then spring, besides school season I hate spring because it’s always raining and storming and it’s annoying. But, it’s not too terrible temperature-wise.


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