Experienced Franklin Regional softball team eyes more success

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Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 6:08 PM


Franklin Regional has strung together four consecutive winning seasons in softball.

Last year, the Panthers tied for first with rival Penn-Trafford in Section 1-5A, landed the No. 4 seed for the WPIAL playoffs and drew a first-round bye.

After an 11-day layoff, Franklin Regional lost on a no-hitter to fifth-seeded Connellsville, 4-0, in the quarterfinals to finish 14-7.

The Panthers went 14-6, 12-5-1 and 14-5 in their three previous seasons.

“The expectations are always to win,” longtime Panthers coach Jim Armstrong said. “We want to always make sure we are playing the game the right way and to the best of our ability.”

Franklin Regional started 8-1 last year, then won four of its next five to go to 12-2. The Panthers ended the regular season by dropping four of their final six games.

Mallory Halleck, a senior first baseman who recently committed to Saint Vincent, led the team in batting average (.417), RBIs (26) and runs (15) last season.

“We have tons of experience,” Halleck said. “Most of our players play on a travel team year-round, and we have a mix of returning players and some new ones who will really help this season.”

Point Park commit Angalee Beall had an 11-3 record and 2.75 ERA last season. The senior also recorded 109 strikeouts.

Halleck and Beall earned first-team all-section honors and are captains this year.

Other top returning players include senior shortstop Mariah DeRiggi, a second-team all-section pick, second baseman Kate Alexander, catcher Abby Kane, and outfielders Olivia Yurinko and Kylie O’Neal. Alexander, Kane, Yurinko and O’Neal are juniors.

Seniors Tamazan Schmidt and Kaitlyn Carr also are expected to help in the outfield.

“I feel we are a pretty well-rounded team,” Armstrong said.

Other players looking to make an impact include junior outfielder Anna Damico, sophomore outfielder Sarah Cowell, freshman third baseman Alisa Kane, sophomore outfielder/designated hitter Kamaria Kelly, freshman infielder Erin Hanes and sophomore pitcher Makinzie DeRiggi. Damico and Cowell saw varsity playing time in 2018.

Franklin Regional has opened the last four seasons in Florida, twice traveling to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, once to Cocoa Beach and last year to historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

The Panthers will return to Vero Beach this year from March 20-25.

“We are looking forward to seeing good competition early on,” Halleck said. “This season is going to be tougher than past years with our new section. We’ve been working really hard in the offseason to prepare and are looking forward to our trip and hope that carries over to a strong start and good season.”

Section 1-5A this year consists of Albert Gallatin, Armstrong, Connellsville, Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Latrobe, Laurel Highlands and Penn-Trafford.

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