Early season win shows potential for Penn Hills softball

Sunday, April 25, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Kiern Mack sent a pitch left hanging over the plate solidly over the fence April 19 at Milltown Field in Penn Hills.

The home run was a first in varsity competition for the junior outfielder. Mack’s grand slam helped propel the Indians to a 13-1 win over St. Joseph, snapping a four-game slide to open the season for Penn Hills.

Mack doesn’t remember hitting many grand slams at any level.

“When I first started, I wasn’t so good,” said Mack, who has been playing softball for eight years. “Then I kept practicing more and I achieved my goals.”

Other Indians softball players carving out a similar path of improvement will be vital. Penn Hills (1-5, 0-5) has five players who have never played the sport before.

Coupled with having to start the season late due to covid issues, the Indians have felt behind since their first game.

“That first week we missed out on because the covid quarantine put us behind,” coach Rich Burkhart said. “With all of the new players, I didn’t know where to put anybody. It really hurt us because we couldn’t put the girls where I needed them.”

Sophomore pitcher Mara Wade missing out on the first few games also hurt the Indians. Without its top pitcher, Penn Hills lost its first four Section 1-5A games while conceding 71 runs.

Wade, who picked up the win in the circle and also scored twice against St. Joseph, didn’t sit idly by and wait to return.

“I practiced at home,” Wade said. “I put up nets in the backyard. I got some throws and hits in so I could be at my best when I came back.”

Against St. Joseph, Penn Hills didn’t take long to get its offense started. The Indians plated two runs in the first inning and six in the second to take a commanding lead.

Mack believed that game showed Penns Hills has potential.

“The girls, they are good,” Mack said. “I don’t think they have enough confidence. All they have to do is believe in themselves and we can get the job done.”

Following the win over St. Joseph, Penn Hills was more competitive with Wade back in a 9-1 loss to section rival Plum. Burkhart believes as the Indians are able to get more games in, they will be able to show progress.

“We are being positive and our focused on helping the girls learn the game,” Burkhart said. “Having five girls on the team who have never played softball is a struggle sometimes. We’re counting on the girls with more experience to step up and help those girls too.”

Wade agreed.

“I feel like as we long as we put in the work and hustle in practice and hit every ball with the right attitude and keep ourselves up, we’ll be able to cut the gap down,” she said.


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