A-K Valley athletes of the week: Knoch’s Marlee Fraser, Springdale’s John Hughes

Saturday, April 20, 2024 | 9:40 PM

Marlee Fraser

School: Knoch

Class: Sophomore

Sport: Softball

Report card: Knoch sophomore pitcher Marlee Fraser tossed a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and also had the winning double as the Knights beat Freeport, 1-0, in a nonsection game Wednesday. On Friday, she struck out 10 and scattered 11 hits in a 7-5 victory over McKeesport in Section 1-4A play. The Knights ended the week with an 8-3 record overall and 5-1 mark in section play.

How did the team play against McKeesport on Friday?

I think we started off with the bats hot and jumped on them. We played very well throughout the whole game. Our defense could have been cleaned up a little bit.

What was the key to the win against Freeport on Wednesday?

Honestly, Freeport hits the ball pretty well, so our main thing was having strong defense and making the routine plays we needed to make. It’s little stuff like that that wins games.

What feels better, striking out 10 batters or knocking in the winning run?

Oh boy. I think both felt great but knocking in the one run only because I knew that when I scored the run my team would be able to help me make sure the other team wouldn’t score.

What are some things the team is doing well right now?

I think we’ve been doing well communicating well with each other on and off the field. I know we’ve been hitting decently well recently. We just have to figure out how to put them together.

What are the team’s goals this season?

One of our goals is section champs, and we want to make it to the playoffs and, hopefully, to states.

What will it take to advance in the playoffs?

We would definitely need to make sure we’re all on our “A” game. We need to make sure we can put hits together and make sure our defense is very sharp.

What are your strengths as a pitcher?

I feel I can locate the ball well and pick out, for the most part, where a hitter’s weak point is. Normally, if I find it, I just keep hitting it.

What’s the most strikeouts you’ve had in a game?

Fourteen this year against West Mifflin, our first section game of the year.

Have you always been a pitcher?

Yes. I think it was my first year of 10U. I moved up early. I saw an older girl pitching. I thought to myself, “I want to do that.” It was a girl on my team now, Sylvia Luffy.

Are you considering playing in college?

Yes. I’ve been invited to a few showcases and attended a few showcases with my travel ball team (Passion Black).

How did you get started in softball?

Originally I played tee-ball. I didn’t like playing with all the boys. Once I was old enough, my dad (Kenny) was like, “Do you want to play softball? It’s basically baseball with girls.”

Who is the funniest member of the team?

Probably Liz Danik or Alena Takely. They can always just make someone laugh. If I’m upset in the dugout, one of those two can make me laugh, and I am fine.

Who has the best nickname?

Probably Alena Takely: Beans.

Who is the toughest batter you’ve faced?

Maddie Miller. She plays for McKeesport. I feel like whatever I threw, she hit it.

What is something people might not know about you?

I really like pickles. I like dill pickles.

John Hughes

School: Springdale

Class: Senior

Sport: Baseball

Report card: Springdale senior John Hughes was 3 for 4 with a double and also struck out 11 in four innings to lift the Dynamos past Rochester, 6-2, on Monday. On Thursday, he tossed a two-hitter with 16 strikeouts as Springdale (4-2, 4-1) beat St. Joseph, 4-1, in Section 2-A. The Allegheny baseball recruit is batting .562 this season with a homer and five RBIs. On the mound, he is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA and 41 strikeouts. Last season, he hit a WPIAL-leading .649 and carried a 2.08 ERA in earning Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year honors.

How did the team play against St. Joseph on Thursday?

We played really good. We had a good hitting game. We were working on all cylinders. It was the best win we had so far.

What was going well for you on the mound?

Everything was working. The velo was there. My slider was working. I was hitting spots and getting some calls.

Was that the most strikeouts you’ve had in a game?

Yes. I’ve had 15 one time before, but that was the most. I was so happy.

How is the team playing at this point in the season?

I think we’re doing really good. We haven’t had a really big game, like Union, but that’s coming up. I think we’ll make a playoff run this year. We have more depth with our freshman class this year. And people have stepped up this year.

What are the goals for the team the rest of the way?

I want to make the playoffs. I’ve never made the playoffs in high school baseball. However far we make it, that will figure itself out, but I just want to get there.

What will it take to advance in the playoffs?

Just pitching. We can hit real well. We have a tough time with command sometimes. Our pitching is doing great right now. Noah Robbins pitched a whole game (Friday). We have to make sure we can keep doing that.

Do you have any personal goals?

I just want to get the player of the year again. I want to try and hit about .650 like I did last year.

What are your strengths on the mound?

I keep my composure on the mound. If I don’t get a call, I don’t react. I thank my pitching coach (Don Vasey) for that. He helps me a lot. He helped me perfect my 12-6 (curve) the past couple months. He told me confidence is very important on the mound.

What is your mindset at the plate?

Hit all fields basically. I try to focus on right-center. Where it goes, that’s it. I haven’t seen many fastballs. It’s like 70% curveballs.

Who is the funniest member of the team?

Josh Lepish, my coach. He’s just a good dude. He’s funny. He’s a younger coach, so he relates to the kids more and knows what we talk about. He’s 26, so he’s still a kid in my eyes.

Who has the best nickname?

Joe Loebig. We call him J-Lo.

Who is the toughest batter you’ve faced?

No. 10 on St. Joe’s. Owen (Swanson). He’s a good hitter.

How about the toughest pitcher?

Also that kid.

How do you want to be remembered at Springdale?

I just want people to know me for being a good guy. Having a good personality, bringing my teammates up, winning, having fun.

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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