After trip to PIAA playoffs, future bright for Chartiers Valley softball

Sunday, June 13, 2021 | 11:01 AM

In the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the Chartiers Valley softball team finished second to last in its section with a combined record of 7-23.

What a difference two years make, or in this case, one season.

The Colts softball team went from a struggling horse to a magnificent stallion under first-year coach Chris Lloyd in 2021.

Chartiers Valley finished tied for the section championship with three-time defending champion West Allegheny, won 14 games, won the program’s first playoff game in a decade, reached the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals and qualified for the PIAA playoffs.

“Overall I think we had a really good season,” Lloyd said. “Taking a team that only had five section wins the last two seasons and being at the bottom of the section, and then losing last year to covid was tough. But it gave us as coaches a lot of time to work with the girls and prepare them for this year. We had to work from the ground up and learn how to win. We have a very young team and had four sophomores starting that are like freshman out there.”

The Colts galloped out of the gates strong, winning their first eight section games and finishing tied for first with a 10-2 section record.

“Section 4 is one of the toughest sections,” Lloyd said. “Going into the season, I felt like we had a really good chance to make the playoffs. You have West A, Trinity and South Fayette who are always in the playoffs, USC moving down from 6A, and Moon is pretty good. We talked a lot about how nobody knew how good we were. During the first half after beating West A, Trinity and South Fayette, I told the girls that they are making a name for themselves and we have a really good shot at winning the section.”

Senior Jenny Boneysteele finished with an 11-7 record in the circle with a 2.64 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 119 innings.

“Jenna is one of the best WPIAL pitchers and she showed it this year,” Lloyd said.

On offense, the Colts were led by junior Marie Kinchington and her .507 batting average with five homers and 20 RBIs. Junior Gianna Welsh and sophomores Madison Crump and Zoe Mangan all batted over .300 with at least 65 plate appearances.

“We are very strong up the middle with Welsh (catcher), Crump (shortstop), sophomores Rylee Prosperi (second base) and Mackenzie Maga (center field),” Lloyd said. “Our corner infielders also had great seasons with freshman Marta Gualazzi (third base) and Mangan (first base). Our corner outfielders, junior Maria Celmo (left field) and senior Kelli O’Connell (right field) are fast and can cover a lot of ground also.”

In the postseason, Chartiers Valley won three playoffs games. The Colts lost in the district semifinals to eventual champion North Hills and in the PIAA first round to District 6 champion Bellefonte.

“Overall, the whole season is a highlight,” Lloyd said. “Seeing the girls grow and learn how to win was awesome to watch. Beating West A in our first meeting, 1-0, the way we battled back being down 6-3 to score four runs in the bottom of the seventh against Trinity when Mangan had a walk-off double, our second game against South Fayette and Zoe hit a walk off three-run home run.

“Our first playoff game against TJ and Zoe came through again with a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth to take a 9-5 lead, and when we beat Connellsville to earn a trip to states.”

With so many underclassmen performing at a high level this spring and with the success the team enjoyed, the future for Chartiers Valley could be a golden one.

“I’m excited that we have our whole team mostly coming back,” Lloyd said. “We are going to miss Jenna in the circle and Kelli in right field, but we will be returning the rest of our starters. We have the pitching to step in for next year. Coming into this season nobody knew about Chartiers Valley softball and the seniors built the foundation of this program. It will be exciting to see how these girls continue to work together and watch them grow. They now have a taste for the playoffs and are hungry and want to win the WPIAL.”


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