Freeport’s Sydney Selker selected Valley News Dispatch Softball Player of Year

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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | 7:23 PM


Player of the Year

Sydney Selker

Freeport, Senior, Pitcher

When Sydney Selker was forced to miss the last half of her junior softball season because of injury, thoughts turned forward to this past spring and how she would rebound and be a driving force in getting Freeport back to the WPIAL playoffs.

“It was not fun to be out because my stats were pretty good, and we were doing well as a team,” she said.

“Having the season cut short really did stink. When I was able to come back, I continued to work hard for travel ball and this season. I put the time in and got to where I needed to be. In the winter, I made sure I got my pitches down, and I hit a lot so I was ready to reach my goals for my senior season.”

With the fuel firing the engine, Selker went out and stood out in the pitching circle and at the plate as the Yellowjackets punched their tickets to the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs after a one-year hiatus.

A first-round upset of No. 5 Southmoreland and a quarterfinal battle to the limit with No. 4 Mohawk showed how far Selker, and the team overall, had come.

With the effective combination of hitting and pitching, Selker has been selected the Valley News Dispatch Softball Player of the Year.

“The team was always upbeat and supporting each other,” Selker said. “That helped me every time I pitched or was at the plate hitting.

“We all had good camaraderie with each other, and that made a big difference.”

Selker finished the season 10-7 with a 1.41 ERA (19 earned runs over 94 innings). Her walk total was a little higher than she had hoped, but she fanned 174 batters.

At the plate, she batted .471 (24 of 51). Of her 24 hits, 17 were for extra bases with nine doubles and eight home runs. Both were team bests — as were her 26 RBIs.

Fourteen walks drawn helped elevate her on-base percentage to a healthy .585.

Selker said Freeport’s first game against eventual Section 1-3A champion and WPIAL semifinalist Avonworth on the road, a 3-2 win by the Antelopes, was a turning point for the team.

She gave up just two hits in the game, struck out 12, and walked three. All three runs Avonworth scored were unearned.

Offensively, Selker doubled, drove in a run, and scored another.

“Even though we lost, we really showed a lot of fight, and we showed that we can play with anyone if we play our best,” Selker said.

“They were a really good team, and we competed right to the end. We hit the ball well and played good defense. Looking back, that was a game I was definitely most proud of.”

Selker doubled, singled and scored two runs in the 6-3 WPIAL first-round victory over Southmoreland

She also scattered five hits, struck out 11, and calmly worked her way out of a few jams. Her second strikeout of the game was her 500th of her high school career.

“I know a lot of players on Southmoreland, and I knew they had a really good hitting lineup and strong pitching and defense, too,” Selker said.

“They made a good name for themselves, so I was a little nervous going in, but my goal was to pitch my best and help the team get that win. (Sophomore third baseman) Addy Caruso hitting that home run (in the first inning) really set the tone.”

Selker walked three and gave up six hits and two earned runs while striking out five in a 2-1 loss to Mohawk that wrapped up the season at 11-7 overall

“That team was really stacked, and I know the coach well, so I knew he was going to put a good game plan together to prepare his team for what I throw,” she said.

“I really had to trust in my spins and made sure that they worked. I didn’t pitch my best that game, but I pitched well enough to keep the game competitive.”

Freeport coach Ron DeJidas said Selker, who is set to start her collegiate career at Division I Akron, was a leader for the team offensively and defensively.

“She pitched extremely efficiently this year and kept us in every single game, whether we won it or lost it,” he said.

“Offensively, her bat was one of our best. I saw that she relaxed more this year and was able to play a lot more freely. That definitely showed with her performances.”

First-team all-stars

Abby DeJidas

Sr., SS, Freeport

Mia Dunleavy

Sr., 3B, Fox Chapel

Braelyn Jones

Jr., 3B, Burrell

Forming a formidable defensive duo on the left side of the infield with Ferres, Jones also helped pace the Bucs offense in her third year as a starter. Again a VND first-team selection, she batted a robust .491 (28 of 57) in helping Burrell finish runner-up to Avonworth in Section 1-3A. Jones fashioned a 1.505 OPS, and 18 of her 28 hits went for extra bases with 12 doubles, three triples and three home runs. Jones drove in 20 runs and scored 18 more.

Maddie Kee

Sr., P, Deer Lakes

A VND first-team selection as a sophomore and junior, Kee returns to the team based on her production in 17 games. A tough out at the plate, and often tough to solve when she was in the pitching circle, Kee helped the Lancers reach the WPIAL playoffs for a 13th consecutive season. Deer Lakes was the only team to defeat Avonworth in Section 1-3A play, and Kee gave up two hits and two runs while striking out 14 over seven innings as the Lancers rallied for a 5-2 win.

Camdyn Kowalczyk

Sr., SS/C, Apollo-Ridge

Versatility on defense and a tough out at the plate have been the calling cards for the senior all-section performer. A key cog in the Vikings’ run to a runner-up finish to Serra Catholic in Section 2-2A and a WPIAL playoff berth, Kowalczyk battled through a knee injury to produce nine multi-hit games out of 14. She batted .647, one of the highest averages in the Alle-Kiski Valley, this season, and scored 21 runs, drove in 12, and tallied five doubles, three triples and one home run while swiping seven bases. Twelve walks helped her record a .739 on-base percentage.

Dani Pici

Jr., C, Plum

The quarterback of the defense for the Mustangs in their drive to a WPIAL playoff berth against the likes of North Hills, Shaler and Fox Chapel, Pici makes her debut on the VND first team after garnering second-team honors as a sophomore. She batted .397 in the heart of a strong lineup and also slugged .746 with seven doubles and additional power in the form of five home runs. She drove in a team-best 27 runs. She struck out just five times in 65 plate appearances.

Carrah Scardina

Jr., SS/OF, Highlands

The Golden Rams didn’t produce the record they had hoped (3-14), but they still were able to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs in Section 1-4A. Scardina, a VND first-team selection for the second year in a row, provided strong leadership on and off the field and a solid bat and sure-handed defense on the diamond. She batted .436 (17 of 39) over 16 games with a .615 slugging percentage. She produced seven doubles and a team-leading 10 runs batted in.

Second-team all-stars

Addyson Caruso, So., 3B/C, Freeport

Ava Ferretti, Jr., 1B, Leechburg

Tia Germanich, Sr., C, Deer Lakes

Jillian Haugh, Fr., P, Fox Chapel

Grace Hensch, Jr., C, Knoch

Shelby Novak, Fr., P, Burrell

Jamie Noonan, Sr., SS/3B, St. Joseph

Sienna Plummer, So., 1B/P, Deer Lakes

Jocelyn Snyder, So., P/1B, Apollo-Ridge

Riley Stephans, So., P, Plum

Bella Stewart, Jr., C, Burrell

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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