Breakout squad named Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week
Monday, May 13, 2019 | 10:30 PM
The Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week is the Upper St. Clair Panthers, a team that enjoyed a breakout season to end a long postseason drought.
The Panthers clinched their first playoff berth in 20 years in impressive fashion as they won six of the final seven games to finish 13-6 overall and in fourth place in Section 1-6A.
“It was very important for our confidence and overall direction of the program, which is on the rise,” second-year USC coach Bill Aguglia said. “We didn’t want to be a team that made the playoffs. We wanted to be a winning team that deserved to be in the playoffs.”
So how tough was it to turn around a program that hadn’t played a postseason game this century and won only three games two years ago?
“Tough is not the word, but challenging,” Aguglia said. “(I) could see the talent at our first fall ball practice two years ago and wondered why they hadn’t been winning. Then as we started playing games, I could see the cracks.
“They were not believing in themselves and not working together as a team. They needed someone to direct them and believe in them. Once they figured out that I was that person, things started to come together.”
Many players have played a key part in facilitating the winds of change.
Junior pitcher Danielle Orendi is 10-5 with 87 strikeouts and a 2.5o ERA. Junior Grace Swigart has a .483 batting average with 34 RBIs, and junior Zoe Malone has a .518 average.
The unsung heroes, as Aguglia calls them, are junior designated player Haley Beardsley, sophomore catcher Karri Albertini and seniors Maddie Andrejcik, Maddie Swigart and Kelly Dawson.
The breakout season has thrilled Aguglia for many reasons.
“These girls work so hard. I know all coaches say their teams work hard, but I ask a lot of them because of the things we needed to correct. To see it pay off is every coach’s dream. The girls are getting recognized in their community and school for the first time in 20 years.”
Upper St. Clair will face top-seed North Allegheny in a Class 6A quarterfinals matchup Wednesday.
“NA is a program which we strive to be,” Aguglia said. “Year-in and year-out, they are mentioned with the top teams and produce top talent, which is no accident. They are a model for all softball programs.”
Previous Trib HSSN Softball Teams of the Week:
South Allegheny Gladiators
Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week: Claire Zimmerman of Seneca Valley
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.
Tags: Upper St. Clair