A-K Valley athletes of the week: Fox Chapel’s Jillian Haigh, Valley’s Alex Vagnier

Saturday, April 13, 2024 | 2:02 PM

Jillian Haigh

School: Fox Chapel

Class: Freshman

Sport: Softball

Report card: Fox Chapel freshman Jillian Haigh helped the Foxes (3-3, 2-1) to a pair of wins this week. She threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and went 3 for 3 with two doubles in Wednesday’s 11-1 victory over Oakland Catholic in Section 1-5A. She also was 3 for 5 with a double, triple and three RBIs and earned the pitching win in an 11-6 victory over Penn Hills on Tuesday.

How did the team play against Oakland Catholic on Wednesday?

I thought it was pretty good. We started off a little slow, then we got the hang of things and it turned out really well.

What was going well for you?

I started off the season not the way I wanted. I was talking to some coaches, and they told me to do one job at a time. I focused on my pitching when I was pitching and focused on hitting when I was hitting. I’m proud of the results.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

I think we doing well becoming more than just members of a team and being teammates. We also are working together. No one can win a game by themselves.

What will it take to advance in the playoffs?

It will take everyone working together and working hard and coming to practices and games ready to play and win but also to have fun. We need to put our best effort out there every time we step on the field.

What are your goals for the rest of the season?

Just keep doing what I’m doing and to pitch well. Pitching is a very important part of the game. I hope I can pitch well for the rest of the season. Hopefully, we can score runs and make the plays in the field.

Is it unique to have two freshman pitchers on the varsity team?

I think it’s very unique. I’m not sure how many other freshman pitchers there are. We didn’t have any other pitchers on the team so (Ella Eisner and I) stepped up. It’s a big role, but I think we can handle it.

What are your strengths when you are pitching?

I think have good zone control. I pitch a lot of strikes. I’m not a big strikeout pitcher. I focus on getting weak contact and trusting the field behind me to make plays.

How did you get started in softball?

I started when I was about 9. I played rec for Fox Chapel. I don’t know why softball was my sport of choice, but that’s what I picked.

Do you have a nickname?

Sometimes people try to do Jilly Bean, but it doesn’t really work all the time.

What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?

I like my mom’s homemade pizza and breadsticks.

Do you have a favorite restaurant?

I like Hartwood Restaurant.

How many wins will the Pirates have this season?

I’m hoping it’s not a repeat of last season. I hope they do better than last year.

What is something people might not know about you?

I’m into nail art and calligraphy. I also love to read.

Alex Vagnier

School: Valley

Class: Sophomore

Sport: Baseball

Report card: Valley sophomore catcher Alex Vagnier knocked in three runs in a 19-0 win over Shady Side Academy on Tuesday. He then singled in the winning run on a walk-off 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs on Wednesday as Valley improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Section 3-3A.

How did it feel to get the walk-off single Wednesday?

It felt pretty good. It happened really fast. I hit the ball, ran to first and it took a while to process after the game. I thought about it and was like, “Dang, this really just happened.” My teammates told me good job.

What was the scenario?

It was bottom of the seventh. Dante Taliani was on second base; Wesley Schrock had just bunted him to second, and there was one out. It was a fastball right above my chest. I took the first strike. It was pretty much the same pitch. I just took it up the middle, hit a line drive right over the second baseman’s head.

How did the team play in the games against Shady Side Academy?

I think we played really well in the first game. Our defense was really good. Wesley Schrock was pitching really well. In the second game, we weren’t hitting as much. We fought the first pitcher until he was done. They brought in one of their relievers that we were able to hit and took advantage of it.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

We’re staying together. We’re not getting like too cocky. We’re trying to win that section and get deep in the playoffs. If we stay together like we are right now, I think we can do that.

What are the goals for the rest of the season?

We’re trying to win the section and get to the WPIAL finals and win it all.

What made you want to be a catcher?

I was playing Little League one day, and there was no catcher. I told my coach I could play. Ever since, I’ve really loved it. At first my knees would hurt. Then I started working out (and it got easier).

How did you get started in baseball?

My neighbor got me into it. I would see him practice every day. I’d go over there and practice with them. The next year, I played and got very good at it. I was a first baseman.

Who has the best nickname on the team?

We call Conrad Hoover, Hoov.

What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?

Chicken Alfredo.

Do you have a favorite restaurant?


How many wins will the Pirates have this season?

I’d go with 60.

Who’s your favorite major league player?

J.T. Realmuto.

What is something people might not know about you?

I collect shoes. I spend a lot of money on shoes. I have $350 Dodger Dunks. Lots of Dunks and Yeezys. I was looking through StockX, and my one friend collected a lot of shoes, so I thought I would, too. It’s kind of a waste of money. They just sit in my room. I only wear like two.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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