Hampton softball focuses on positives after playoff loss

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Thursday, May 23, 2019 | 9:02 PM


It might not have been Hampton softball’s season, but if growth and maturity are indicators, WPIAL Class 5A could have its hands full next year.

The team lost 3-0 to Franklin Regional in the quarterfinals Tuesday, ending a promising season that saw a run at an undefeated record, plenty of big wins and a section championship. Against the Panthers, the Talbots hitters couldn’t find any openings.

“We hit a lot of hard balls right at them,” said coach Ron Fedell, whose team was shut down by pitcher Angalee Beall. “I give her a lot of credit. She hung in there and kept us off the scoreboard. But I was pleased with how we hit the ball for the most part. We just couldn’t get anything strung together.

“When we had runners on, we had some hard shots, but they were right at them.”

Fedell was proud of how his team competed and kept its spirits up.

“When you get to this point, there’s not a big difference between teams. Sometimes you get a break, or you don’t get a break. But the kids never got down. Even the last inning, they thought for sure they were going to come back. And I love that attitude.”

The Talbots finished 16-4 and will need to carry the same mindset through the offseason, as the juniors and sophomores were responsible for much of the production the past two years.

But the seniors, Sydney Kasper and Maddie Warner, will be remembered as great leaders. Kasper injured her hand early in the season and missed much of the year, but the team came together, winning its first 13 games en route to the section title.

“Throughout the season, I felt like as we started to win and win, the bond our team had started to get stronger,” Warner said. “We wanted to keep going. Unfortunately, it did end a little too soon. But I feel like we were a very strong team altogether.”

Warner, pitching ace Anneliese Probeck and outfielder Lydia Quaglia earned all-section honors. Fedell was named Section 2 Coach of the Year. Probeck finished the regular season 12-2 with 100 strikeouts.

“Maddie, she fought to the end,” Fedell said. “She’s another the kids looked up to. They saw the leadership those two gave us. It’s up to Anneliese and whoever else is the captains next year to give us the same.”

Hampton will return all but one starter for a team that looks to be a contender. Fedell isn’t thinking about that.

“I said to them, ‘Listen, we had a great year, and now is not the time to think about next year.’ But if we want to get to where we want to go next year, it’s going to take a lot of hard work. We can be back next year, but we’re not just going to walk on the field, and teams are going to say, ‘Hey, you got the win.’ ”

Other players who broke out this year include freshman catcher Bella Henzler and Arianna Erka, who had played shortstop but found a home in left field because of the presence of three-year starter Maria Schrecengost. Erka, a sophomore, executed a big double play with an outfield assist in the Talbots’ first-round playoff win against Latrobe.

“She can only get better,” Fedell said. “It’s great to see kids like that rise to the occasion and surprise you, not having played that position before.”

That type of selflessness embodies the team concept Fedell said makes this group special. Warner agreed.

“It was about the team,” she said. “If one person was brought down, we didn’t let them bring the rest of the team down. It was our job to keep everyone up. I think in general, nobody cared about stats. It was how far could this team go and fight together.”

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