Heavy-hitting Penn-Trafford softball is at it again

Monday, April 8, 2019 | 10:29 PM

See it. Rip it.

Penn-Trafford softball players aren’t trained to wait on pitches and work their way through long at-bats. Coach Denny Little wants the green light shining bright from the moment his hitters dig into the batter’s box.

It’s like they’re facing pitching machines instead of live arms.

“I have been coaching these girls since they were 7 years old,” Little said. “That’s what I taught them from the beginning, and that’s what they know.”

The swing-away mentality continues to pay off for Penn-Trafford (6-0), the third-ranked team in WPIAL Class 5A. The Warriors have scored 43 runs, are hitting .387 as a team and have ripped 10 doubles and five home runs.

“We have a lot of confidence,” sophomore center fielder Brooke Cleland said. “Coach wants us to be aggressive at the plate. We’re a hitting team. That’s what we do.”

And most games, the majority of the lineup gets the bat around.

Six players are hitting over .400: sophomore Emma Little (.563), sophomore Cleland (.500), senior Morgan Nedley (.471), senior Emma Armstrong (.446) and sophomore Allie Prady (.400).

Armstrong, a Hartford recruit, homered in three straight games, including a grand slam against Albert Gallatin. Emma Little hit a grand slam in a win over Kiski Area.

Cleland drove in three runs, and junior Jess Lichota and Armstrong also had two hits apiece when the Warriors dismantled four-time defending WPIAL champion Hempfield, 12-2, in five innings.

“We’re taught to see the ball, hit the ball,” Armstrong said. “The thing about our team is that everyone does their job. We can go as far as we want to go.”

Offense — boatloads of it — has become the team’s forte.

The Warriors were 16-4 last season and averaged 8.7 runs. Two years ago, they finished 14-6 and scored 209 times (10.5 a game).

Missing, though, from both productive years was a playoff win. The Warriors lost to Thomas Jefferson last season and Albert Gallatin two season ago, both times in the quarterfinals after a first-round bye.

It’s still early, but the Warriors want to build momentum again as they negotiate Section 1 play and move closer to the postseason.

“We want to carry the hitting over to the playoffs,” Little said. “We have to figure out a way to make that happen. We have the talent. We’re a grip-it-and-rip-it team.”

While the Warriors are a bit behind their rapid-scoring pace of the last two years — keep in mind, they’ve lost home-run hitters like Hannah Dobrinick (Otterbein) and Emma Nedley (Penn), among others — they’re starting to catch up.

They have outscored their last three opponents 35-7.

“That team can hit,” Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. “They’re going to give some teams problems with their bats.”

Two big games lurk on the schedule this week as Penn-Trafford hosts No. 2 Latrobe on Wednesday at Seton Hill and visits Franklin Regional on Friday.

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


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