Chartiers Valley softball season punctuated by memorable playoff wins

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Saturday, June 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Success isn’t always measured by championships.

For a second straight season, the Chartiers Valley softball team enjoyed a strong regular season followed by a deep run in the district playoffs and a season-ending loss in the state postseason.

“Overall, I think we had a really good season,” Chartiers Valley coach Chris Lloyd said. “I think we surprised a lot of teams. From last season, our biggest hole to fill was the pitcher’s circle. Zoe Mangan did really well and Taylor Walsh came in when needed. Our goal at the beginning of each season is to be better than the season before and play meaningful softball in June.”

In 2021, the Colts finished as co-champs with West Allegheny in Section 4-5A, reached the WPIAL semifinals and lost in the PIAA first round. They ended the season with a 14-9 record.

This spring, Chartiers Valley finished in third place behind Trinity and West A, again made it to the district final four and lost in its state opener to finish with a 15-7 record.

“Of course, the goal is to get better each game and go out and give 100% every time you’re on the field,” Lloyd said. “As coaches, we emphasize making the routine plays and the wow plays just come. At times throughout the season, we struggled in the field, but everything clicked when we got to the playoffs and we tightened it up in the field and played really well. I feel offensively we were really strong throughout the year.”

That power was really on display when the Colts hit nine of their 35 home runs this season in five postseason contests. Seniors Gianna Welsh and Marie Kinchington led the team with six home runs each.

“Gianna had a great season,” Lloyd said. “She led our team in almost every hitting category. She only had two strikeouts, and they did not come until the playoffs. Marie is one of the scariest hitters in the WPIAL.”

Lloyd was pleased with the contributions of many players to the Colts’ success. Some of the standout performers included the pitching tandem of Mangan, a junior, and Walsh, a freshman.

“Zoe got stronger in the circle as the season went on,” Lloyd said. “Most of the season Zoe would start and Taylor would come in at the end. In the playoffs, we rode Zoe and she stepped up big for us. At the beginning of the season, she was dealing with a wrist injury, but after the Easter break, she got her bat going again and came on strong for us at the plate. Taylor also had 20 hits on the season and did not play like a freshman.”

The play of senior Mackenzie Minney, junior Madison Crump and sophomore Marta Gualazzi also were factors in the Colts’ gallop to success in 2022.

“Mackenzie is a soccer and track athlete but was talked into playing softball because of her speed,” Lloyd said. “She would come in and pinch run and was dangerous on the bases for us. She scored a lot of key runs for us throughout the season. Madison is our leadoff hitter and shortstop. She got better and better as we got into the playoffs defensively. She also did well with the bat this year. Marta gets better every time she is on the field. She played well at third base and had a really good season hitting the ball with power.”

There were plenty of highlights this season for Chartiers Valley, starting with the season opener against West Mifflin. Last spring, the Titans crushed the Colts in the first game, 12-1. This season, CV turned the tables and got off to a good start with a 16-6 win.

“I think this year we flew under the radar,” Lloyd said. “Last year, we had a really young team with a senior pitcher who kept us in games. This year, we had to play all three phases of the game. We played as one and a lot of different girls contributed and had big moments throughout the season.”

The Colts weren’t thrilled when the WPIAL playoff brackets came out and they were on the No. 11 line in Class 5A. However, they didn’t sulk and instead went to work knocking off section champs Fox Chapel and Trinity in the first two rounds.

“We felt that we were better than an 11 seed, and we had to go out and prove that we were,” Lloyd said. “We played Fox Chapel last year in the playoffs and knew their pitcher really well. We came out swinging and scored five runs right away. We just kept hitting the whole game and stacking runs. We also talked about locking down our defense and they put a whole game together.”

The district run ended with a semifinals loss to Penn-Trafford, 3-2, and the season concluded with a state first-round loss to Armstrong, 13-6.

While 2022 just ended, already Lloyd and his staff are excited looking ahead to 2023.

“We return most of our whole team,” he said. “We will have five seniors next year, and they have high expectations. Zoe has a year of being the No. 1 pitcher under her belt and is only going to get better. We have a couple spots to fill, but the sophomores and freshmen will be ready to complete for those spots. We move down to 4A next year, so it will be fun to face new teams and see how far we can go.”

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