Franklin Regional softball team appreciates perspective

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Sunday, March 21, 2021 | 3:32 PM


Jim Armstrong remembers the day it all came crashing down.

“We were in the gym playing kickball,” the Franklin Regional softball coach said. “It kind of dawned on me what was about to happen. It was over.”

The PIAA canceled spring sports last year as the coronavirus pandemic began to coat the state map and grab a hold of sports.

The Panthers were coming off a 13-9 season that saw them make the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals. Despite injuries, they pushed eventual champion West Allegheny to the brink before falling 4-2.

Franklin Regional lost a PIAA play-in game to eventual PIAA champion Penn-Trafford.

A small upperclass group will look to mesh with an up-and-coming crop of sophomores as the Panthers aim for another postseason run — with a heightened sense of what is happening around them.

“I told the girls, you have to play each game like it’s your last one,” Armstrong said. “They don’t want it to be like last year when they got slapped in their faces.”

Senior pitcher Makinzie DeRiggi is back and ready to play after recovering from a fractured leg two years ago. Armstrong said junior Alisa Kane and sophomore Carli Ramchandran also could see time in the circle.

“It’s good to have Makinzie back,” Armstrong said. “She is a leader and will do well for us. She is a different type of pitcher than (workhorse) Angalee (Ball).”

Speaking of strong arms, senior Sara Cowell will move from right to center field.

“We always expect the best from everyone,” Cowell said. “We’re so glad to be back playing again. It seems like so long ago that we got to play together.”

A third senior player is outfielder Kamaria Kelly, who should be a key bat in the lineup.

“We need to trust in each other,” Kelly said. “We can have a strong season if that happens and everyone tries their best.”

Kane will be a key infielder, along with juniors Kamryn Marcus and Erin Hanes.

The promising sophomore group includes catcher/outfielder Sydney Jackson, outfielder/DH Madison Nguyen, catcher/infielder Alexa Patberg, shortstop Tait Ramchandran and first baseman Karissa Seaman.

The Ramchandran girls are cousins.

“We’re going to mix and match people,” Armstrong said. “We have options. That has created competition. We have a close group but they know they’re competing against their friends — she can take your job.”

Armstrong not only like the possibilities on the lineup card but also the potential of the girls on it.

“I don’t think, 1 through 9, we have a weak bat,” he said.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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