Hampton softball off to powerful start

Saturday, March 25, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The Hampton softball team opened the 2023 season with a bizarre at-bat the Talbots won’t soon forget.

Junior leadoff hitter Charlotte Lomb smashed a deep first-inning drive at Fox Chapel on March 20 that was called a ground-rule double. But umpires eventually ruled the ball cleared the fence, giving Lomb — after some uncertain moments — her first high school home run.

“I was standing at second base, just kind of waiting,” Lomb said. “It was really exciting.”

The Talbots hope the season-opening home run is the first of many memorable at-bats this spring.

Lomb added another home run and junior MacKenzie Reese had three hits as the Talbots routed the Foxes, 10-0, in five innings to avenge a 15-0 error-filled Senior Day loss to Fox Chapel last April.

“If we continue to hit,” coach Ron Fedell said, “it will bode well for us.”

Hampton graduated only two starters from last year’s team, which went 7-8 and made a fourth consecutive WPIAL playoff appearance for the first time in program history.

The most stinging loss was all-state catcher Bella Henzler, a freshman at James Madison. But another college recruit is taking over behind the plate. Senior Addy Maguire, who has signed with Edinboro, will move from third base, where she was an All-Section 3-5A pick last season after hitting .422 with one home run, 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored.

“She softens the blow,” Fedell said. “She’s a really good catcher in her own right.”

The biggest change comes in the circle. Lomb, who handled pitching duties the past two seasons, is moving to shortstop, and sophomore Cassie Vidic, who got a handful of late-season starts as a freshman, will take over at pitcher.

“She has improved a lot since last year,” Maguire said of Vidic. “Her ball movement, her pitches. She’s a lot faster than she was last year.”

The move — which also allows junior Jessica Lange to move to center field — strengthens a shaky defense that last season averaged about four or five errors a game. The Talbots committed only one error in the victory over Fox Chapel.

“Charlotte is definitely the best shortstop that we have,” said Fedell, in his 23rd season. “It helps us.”

Said Lomb, “If that’s where (Fedell) wants me to play, I’ll play there. I’ve always felt more comfortable in the field. Playing travel ball and even my college offers, all of them are to play the infield. I’ve always felt more confident in the infield, so I just think that’s going to help my overall game.”

Reese, an all-section first baseman last season after hitting a team-best six home runs, will start at third with sophomore Aliza Michielli at second base and freshman Giana Nelson at first.

“We will have less errors this year, for sure,” Reese said. “I like how we came out with the win (at Fox Chapel) and kind of just showed them that we are here to play and we’re here to win.”

Lange will be flanked by sophomore Alaina Dittrich in left field and junior Anna Derence in right field as part of a possible platoon.

Some of the top reserves are junior outfielder Sara Dietz, junior infielder/outfielder Brooke Murgenovich and sophomore outfielder Danica Gynn.

The Talbots are moving down to Class 4A this season and will compete in Section 3-4A against the likes of defending WPIAL Class 4A champion Beaver, WPIAL Class 5A semifinalist Chartiers Valley and WPIAL Class 4A semifinalist Montour.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Fedell said. “Everybody said we dropped down in class and it’s going to be easy. Nothing is ever easy.”


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