Hempfield beats Penn-Trafford in slugfest between big-school powers

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 | 9:40 PM

Hempfield misses its senior starting pitcher, Callie Sowers, who has yet to play a game this season because of a broken thumb.

But perhaps to the surprise of some who follow the elite softball program, this Spartans team isn’t just about pitching.

They can hit … and hit … and hit some more.

And they’re making do just fine, thank you, in the circle.

“The hitting is getting better and better,” longtime coach Bob Kalp said.

Hempfield matched bats with another big-swinging team Wednesday in Penn-Trafford, and the Spartans held back the visiting Warriors in a slugfest, 10-9.

Five-time defending WPIAL champion Hempfield (3-1) has won three in a row.

“How about that?” Kalp said. “I believe they call that a streak.”

The Spartans have scored 17, 12 and 10 runs during the streak.

Hempfield, which began the season ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, scored at least once in every inning, took advantage of four Penn-Trafford (1-2) errors and held off a late rally by the Warriors, who trailed 10-6 heading to the seventh.

“Today’s win really showed how good we can be,” said Hempfield senior outfielder Kelsi Terzolino, who went 3 for 3 with a home run, two singles, a walk and two RBIs. “Even though it is still early in the season, we are already showing great progress. Especially with our bats. It was encouraging to see our girls come together and hit against a good team.”

Penn-Trafford, the top-ranked WPIAL team in 5A — and the No. 5 team in the state in that classification — got two home runs and three RBIs from senior Seton Hill recruit Brooke Cleland, including a no-doubter to center in the third.

Cleland smashed another one, this time a two-run shot, with no outs in the seventh. Senior Emma Little then doubled, senior Allie Prady singled and freshman Erin Drotos delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to make it 10-9.

But Hempfield freshman pitcher Hannah Uhrinek recorded a strikeout and got senior Sarah Eisenhuth to fly out to junior center fielder Sydney Mitchell to finally end it.

Uhrinek, who has been durable filling in for Sowers, went the distance with the help of an error-free defense.

“We hit the ball hard, which is nice,” Kalp said. “But what I’m excited about is how we finally played a game without making any errors.”

“They are a great hitting team,” Kalp said of the Warriors. “I am not despondent to the fact we’re a young team and our third pitcher is doing the work for us. We basically have a girl who used to pitch and was going to be an outfielder pitching for us. She is doing well.”

When the teams scrimmaged earlier this season, they played to a 1-1 tie in six innings.

This game wasn’t as crisp and featured long at-bats, some miscues and a combined 24 hits — 12 for each side.

“We had a few letdowns defensively,” Warriors coach Denny Little said. “Take away four runs, and it’s a different ball game. You know we’re going to hit until the last out, and that’s what we did.”

Penn-Trafford used three pitchers. Junior McKenzie Rapp started but was replaced by junior Mia Smith in the second inning with the score 2-2. Smith lasted until the third when Little brought in sophomore Sarah Yamrick, who went 213 innings.

Smith reentered and took the loss.

Hempfield took a 5-3 lead in the third on a single by Uhrinek and a throwing error. Uhrinek helped her cause by going 3 for 4 with two RBIs.

A bases-loaded walk by Uhrinek made it 5-4 in the fourth, but Hempfield extended it to 7-4 in the bottom of the frame after an error and two groundouts.

A run-scoring triple by sophomore Olivia Orischak was followed by a run-scoring single by Terzolino to make it 9-4 in the fifth.

Orischak had two hits and two RBIs.

Penn-Trafford scored twice in the sixth, on an RBI single by senior Lizzie Cermak and via a rundown gone awry by the Spartans. Hempfield made it 10-6 after a wild pitch and another error in the sixth.

“We are still figuring things out as a team, and it was good to see how we gave ourselves some help on the defensive side,” said Terzolino, who will play at Pitt-Johnstown. “I think we still have a long way to go, but we are definitely on the right track to success.”

Prady finished 3 for 4, while Emma Little and Cermak each had two hits, and junior Hannah Allen drove in a pair for Penn-Trafford.

Eisenhuth, Prady and Little all doubled.

Senior Emma Hoffner had a double and drove in a run for the Spartans.

“We’re licking our wounds, but we lost to two good teams in Mt. Pleasant and Hempfield,” Denny Little said. “We as a staff have to figure out how to clean it up defensively.”

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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