Battery powers Hampton softball team
Saturday, March 26, 2022 | 11:01 AM
The Hampton softball team this season will use its battery to make up for some lost power.
Senior Division I-bound catcher Bella Henzler and improved sophomore pitcher Charlotte Lomb are expected to form a potent combo for the Talbots, who graduated the program’s most prolific single-season home run hitter.
Henzler, a James Madison recruit, is regarded as one of the WPIAL’s top catchers and Lomb pitched for a North America Fast Pitch World Series-champion 14U team during the summer.
“We have a good group,” 23rd-year coach Ron Fedell said, “and we can certainly attain a lot of our goals.”
Hampton, which finished 7-10 last season, will count on the Lomb-Henzler battery in its bid to make a fourth consecutive playoff appearance for the first time in program history.
The Talbots graduated three starters, highlighted by first-team all-section shortstop Hannah Bradfield, who last season hit a school-record nine home runs. The Talbots hit 18 home runs as a team, believed to be a program record.
“Hannah is going to be a tough one to replace, but I think we will definitely be able to figure it out,” said Henzler, who last season hit .485 with 35 RBIs. “The team is going to be good. I think we’ve improved greatly as hitters.”
Henzler, a first-team all-Section 3-5A pick, was second on the team with six home runs last season and enjoyed a productive offseason playing for two elite New Jersey-based travel teams. Her New Jersey Intensity 18U team played in tournaments in Oklahoma, Colorado and California. This past fall, she played for the Stars National 18U team.
“I got to play against some of the best competition in the nation,” she said of the Intensity’s West Coast schedule. “It was a very cool opportunity.”
Lomb also had a memorable offseason. She was the starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Nitro 14U team in the finals of the Fast Pitch World Series in late July in Columbus, Ohio. She threw all seven innings in the Gold Division victory as the Nitro rebounded from a 1-3 pool play record to survive the single-elimination bracket.
“That was really fun,” Lomb said. “It was really good.”
Lomb is looking for more consistency after an uneven freshman season. Fedell estimates Lomb walked “six, seven kids a game last year, at least,” but she returns for her sophomore season vastly improved.
“I just feel a lot more confident in my ability and all of the work that I’ve put in,” Lomb said. “I’m a lot more confident this season. … I can definitely feel that I’m throwing a lot faster. I think we are going to be a lot better than last year.”
Henzler has also seen a change in the young pitcher.
“She definitely has more velocity and her confidence has greatly improved,” Henzler said. “She is a different pitcher this year, and she’s going to have a lot of success.”
Other returnees include junior third baseman Addy Maguire (.384, 3 HRs, 24 RBIs), and a pair of sophomores, first baseman Mackenzie Reese and outfielder/designated hitter Abby Dittrich.
In the middle of the infield, sophomore Jessica Lange will replace Bradfield at shortstop and senior Shannon Shaughnessy will start at second base.
The outfield remains in flux with five players — Dittrich, sister Alaina Dittrich, junior Leah Morris and freshmen Aliza Michielli and Cassie Vidic — part of the mix.
Fedell is confident the young players — four started as freshmen last season — will take a step forward as the Talbots compete in a rugged section that includes reigning WPIAL Class 5A champion North Hills, WPIAL semifinalist Fox Chapel and defending section champion Shaler. The Talbots open March 29 against visiting Seneca Valley.
“I believe they will improve,” Fedell said of the sophomores. “We can certainly be as potent as we were last year, if not more so.”
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