Franklin Regional softball anticipates making run at section title with talented lineup

Saturday, March 12, 2022 | 4:35 PM

His softball team actually outdoors for a practice on the fourth day of preseason workouts, a day before a winter storm watch in the region, Jim Armstrong did a panorama of the mud-caked field at Franklin Regional.

He squinted into the bright afternoon sunshine and smiled.

“This is a sweet little group of kids we have,” Armstrong said. “We have some talent, and this is a tremendous group of girls. I think we can be pretty good.”

Franklin Regional graduated only three seniors from a 10-7 team that reached the WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals.

But the talk around this year’s team centers more on what they are gaining than what they have lost.

An influx of young talent will look to interlock with proven players to help the Panthers push returning WPIAL and PIAA runner-up Armstrong in Section 1.

“Armstrong has been on our minds a lot,” coach Armstrong said. “The girls joke around and call me River Hawk. I need to change my name, or Armstrong needs to change theirs.”

One player to watch is freshman Toryn Fulton, a big-hitting presence who can play anywhere on the field but likely will end up in the outfield.

The 6-footer showed her athleticism on the basketball court this winter, but softball might be her best sport.

“Our outfield is pretty stacked,” senior left fielder Kamryn Marcus said. “We have so many young players coming up. We all have such strong (sports) backgrounds. I think we’ll be a very strong batting team.”

Armstrong thinks his outfield could be one of the best in the WPIAL.

Freshman Cierra Camacho also shows promise at second base.

“I think we can go pretty far,” said Fulton, the daughter of former Penn Hills standout Billy Fulton, who played briefly with the New York Yankees. “We all fit in well together. I feel welcomed, not out of the circle.”

Offensively, the Panthers could pack a punch.

Junior first baseman Madison Nguyen returns after hitting .451 with eight home runs, 29 RBIs and 17 runs. Junior Sydney Jackson, who also figures into the outfield mix, batted .403 with 20 RBIs, and senior Alisa Kane is back at third.

Junior Carli Ramchandran will be the top pitcher. She drove in 13 last season.

“She was in line to be our No. 1 last year, but Makinzie DeRiggi pitched well and took that spot,” Armstrong said. “We’ll depend a lot on Carli and what she does in the circle.”

The Panthers also return senior infielder Erin Hanes and junior Alexa Patberg.

“Losing the girls we lost is big,” Armstrong said. “But there is replacement value there. The younger girls are doing some good things.”

Another freshman looking to contribute right away is Sierra Downs. Junior shortstop Tait Ramchandran is working her way back from an injury.

The Panthers will play three games and a scrimmage in Orlando, Fla., to start the season. Upon their return home, they will open Section 1 play against, yep, Armstrong.

“Having Florida right before Armstrong is perfect,” said Marcus, who scored 14 runs as a junior. “We’ll be coming off playing come great teams and, hopefully, have so much momentum for them.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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