Bigger roster gives new Fox Chapel softball coach Olbrich cause for optimism

Monday, March 9, 2020 | 5:17 PM

During offseason training, first-year Fox Chapel softball coach Chris Olbrich kept seeing more and more girls show up to work out.

It was a pleasant surprise for Olbrich, who was an assistant coach with the Foxes the past four seasons. The 2019 team had only 11 girls to start the year and, because of injuries, only nine at the end.

Entering this spring, the Foxes have 23 girls who tried out for the team, and with some young talent in the lineup, Olbrich is confident the team can improve on last season’s 3-15 record.

“I believe that we will be a better team,” Olbrich said. “We’re still young, but we have the ability to have a full roster now instead of having nine players and being in trouble if someone gets hurt. That’s the biggest thing I look forward to.”

The Foxes return several experienced players, starting with junior All-Section 2-6A left fielder Neena Pietropaolo. She led the team with three home runs and was second on the team in batting average. Olbrich is counting on Pietropaolo to be a cornerstone of the lineup.

Senior center fielder Jess Klein also returns after leading the team in batting average in 2019. Senior Claire Katz returns as the right fielder.

The Foxes will have an all-sophomore battery with Amelia Herzer at catcher and Mackenzie Borkovich, who pitched the majority of the innings last season. Sophomore Macayla Weiner and junior Justice Carmody will split time at second base.

Senior Joanna Delaney, who took last season off to run track, returns and will be the designated hitter. Fellow seniors Abigail Troutman and Nicole Blackwell will serve as utility players.

Olbrich said he believes he has quality young depth that can make the team stronger.

“We have only five seniors and three juniors, so that makes 15 that are underclassmen,” Olbrich said. “The future down the road looks really bright. This will be a growing, improving and learning year. If we happen to sneak into the playoffs, that’s awesome. Do I think we can make playoffs? Yes, but we’re in a really tough section.”

Fox Chapel is the smallest school in Section 2 and is scheduled to play in Class 5A in 2021. They are in Section 2 with perennial powers Hempfield and North Allegheny. Norwin tied with Hempfield and North Allegheny for the section championship last season. Seneca Valley was the other playoff team. North Hills, Pine-Richland and Butler also reside in Section 2.

“All of them even on a bad day are still pretty decent,” Olbrich said. “I’m hoping that we can surprise a few people. We’ve definitely improved. If everything goes according to plan, we will be better, but it’s still a really tough division.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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