Larry Troutman finds ‘perfect situation’ with Leechburg softball program

Monday, February 6, 2023 | 1:29 PM

Larry Troutman believes he is in an ideal situation.

Troutman was hired in early October as coach of the highly touted and record-setting Leechburg softball program.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to represent Leechburg School District and the Leechburg community,” he said, “and I look forward to the opportunity to continue the strong softball program that has been in place and look to continue the longstanding tradition.

“I have had other opportunities to coach at the high school level over the years, but I believe that this is the perfect situation.”

A Fox Chapel resident, the 48-year-old Troutman has been coaching girls fast-pitch softball since 2010.

“I originally started out in the Fox Chapel area in the Indiana Township Athletic Association recreational program,” he said. “I began coaching fast-pitch travel softball in 2011 and have been coaching at that level ever since.”

Troutman spent six years as head coach for a Pittsburgh Predators (Lower Burrell) team and coached that group from 12U to 18U.

The last three years, he coached a River City Venom (Mars) team and has been involved with that group beginning at 13U.

“Most of those girls are juniors or sophomores,” Troutman said. “My teams have played all over the Northeast in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia over the years,” Troutman said.

A group of Troutman’s players are competing at the collegiate level at mostly the Division II, Division III and NAIA levels.

Troutman takes over for Debbie Young, who compiled a 91-34 record in her seven seasons at Leechburg. Young guided the Blue Devils to five section titles and two runner-up finishes, posting a 70-6 record in section play.

Prior to Young’s tenure, Jim Oberdorf, who won more than 500 games as Leechburg’s coach for 30-plus years, established the winning culture long ago for the program.

Troutman inherits a team that was a WPIAL Class A quarterfinalist in 2022 and finished 9-6 overall.

More significantly, it was a WPIAL-record 35th consecutive playoff season for the Blue Devils, who are expected to be led this spring by senior pitcher/shortstop Anna Cibik and senior center fielder/shortstop Karli Mazak.

Cibik, whose mother, Janel, was a pitcher at Leechburg, was honored as an A-K Valley athlete of the week last season.

Cibik tossed a pair of one-hitters in a doubleheader sweep over Ellis School, a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 4-3 loss to Springdale and a three-inning no-hitter with eight strikeouts in a lopsided victory against Riverview in earning the award.

“My mom was a pitcher in high school. As soon as I started playing softball, she got me into pitching and taught me the fundamentals,” Cibik said after being named athlete of the week. “Through the years, my dad (Erik) has kept me in it. He’s been my catcher for everything. He’s taken me to lessons.”

Cibik discussed a few of her strengths in the pitcher’s circle.

“My endurance and I don’t get frustrated,” she said. “I can go long periods on the mound, and if my team makes errors, I know I have to keep my head up and keep just pitching.

“My other strength would definitely be my movement (on my) pitches. I’ve had movement for a long time, and I use them pretty well to get strikeouts.”

Mazak batted .540 as the team’s leadoff hitter last season with 16 RBIs and a team-best 22 runs scored to go along with two doubles and three triples.

Leechburg hit close to .400 as a team last year, and Mazak was named a first-team all-star by the Valley News Dispatch.

Other players to watch at Leechburg in 2023 include junior outfielder Grace Richards, sophomore infielders Ava Ferretti and Danica Sopcak and junior OF/INF Ava Richards. Sophomore shortstop Josalyn Collini is injured and out for the season.

In all, the Blue Devils will have six returning starters on this year’s team.

“The Leechburg softball program has a long history and tradition,” Troutman said. “The current team returns a strong nucleus of experienced players, though the section opponents have changed this year, which should pose a significant challenge.

“Experienced and talented junior, sophomore and incoming freshman classes will provide plenty of options to solidify the lineup.”

Troutman, who has been employed as a regional vice president for a global engineering and testing company for the past 18 years, describes his basic coaching philosophy as “aggressive.”

He said, “I like my teams to play aggressive and be up on our toes in all phases of the game. Aggressive pitching, aggressive in the field, as well as at the plate and on the bases. I want the girls to be aggressive in all areas and play extremely sound but aggressive defense. All gas, no brakes, forcing the opponent to make plays.”

Members of the Leechburg softball program have been participating in open gyms since Troutman’s hiring in the fall.

“The open gyms have primarily been a way for the girls to learn a little about my style and for me to learn about them,” Troutman said. “Most of the open gyms have focused primarily on defense and attacking the ball, but recently we started to mix in batting reps.

“The objective is to hit the field with momentum when official practice begins and we have nice weather. All of the girls have responded well and are working hard.”

Troutman is married with three children, two daughters and a son.

“Again, I am extremely honored to represent this school district and community and plan on immersing myself into the community, as well,” Troutman said. “I really want to make sure the current players are aware of the strong tradition and history that this softball program has established over the years and appreciate it as much as I do.”

Troutman will be assisted by Chris Fabec, Police Chief of the Southern Armstrong Region, this season.


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