Experience paying off for Hampton softball

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Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 5:37 PM


Hampton softball is off to a scorching hot start in this spring, but the team is staying focused on the big picture.

The team rolled out to a 9-0 start after a 3-1 win over Shaler last week, and has cemented itself as an early WPIAL Class 5A title contender.

“It’s the advancement that some of these kids made from last year to this year,” coach Ron Fedell said. “The last couple years we had a very young team.”

Fedell recalled one game against Shaler last year, where he fielded an entire team of freshmen and sophomores.

Those underclassmen have grown into a WPIAL softball powerhouse. But success, particularly for seniors Sydney Kasper and Maddie Warner, has been a long journey. Both seniors, along with junior pitcher Anneliese Probeck, were voted captains and take their roles seriously.

“We try to make sure we all feel supported as a unit,” said Kasper, who was nursing an injury but expects to return soon.

“It’s not someone’s fault we didn’t do well or win. I think Maddie does a good job, as well. Sometimes, we’re really hard on ourselves and want to make the coaches proud. Maddie and I just have the girls take a step back and realize we all have each other’s back.”

That kind of maturity is what comes with many games where the Talbots were on the losing side. Last year, the team made the first round of the playoffs. Two years ago, a late-season collapse left the young Talbots one game out, and provided perspective.

“They got a lot of experience last year because out of necessity,” Fedell said. “We needed to use them (the past two years), and it’s really paying big dividends.”

Some of the best developments have come from the underclassmen. Probeck and sophomore Bella Nordick have combined to keep seven of Hampton’s nine opponents to under two runs, including two shutouts. Freshman Bella Henzler has excelled, particularly on defense in the early going.

The defense, according to Kasper, has always been a work in progress.

“The past years we struggled a little with that,” she said. “Our coaches always say, you have to believe, you have to want it. I think now because of past experience, we believe we can, and play well because of it.”

As the wins continue to mount, Fedell thinks this team has the mental makeup to cope with the increasing pressure that comes with it, and meet its ultimate goals of winning a section, WPIAL and state championship.

“The further you go along, there’s always more pressure,” he said. “We just try to focus on the next game. If we go undefeated, that’s great, but it doesn’t do anything for us. The kids are a happy bunch, they’re having fun, and I think we can reach those goals if we continue to work hard.”

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