New leader, same expectations for Hempfield softball team

Tuesday, March 15, 2022 | 5:08 PM

While there will be a new captain running the Hempfield softball ship this season, first-year coach Tina Madison said the expectations of the program will remain the same.

Madison replaces legendary coach Bob Kalp, who retired after the 2021 season after coaching the Spartans for the past 25 seasons and compiling a 229-42 record. That included 16 section titles, seven WPIAL titles and four PIAA titles. Madison (Skelly) placed for and coached with Kalp.

“This program is established,” Madison said. “We’ll tweak a few things, but the biggest difference is there is a new coach. The ship will continue to sail on.”

Madison was a volunteer assistant coach under Kalp in 2021 and ran the fall team where she got to learn more about the players.

She’s also surrounded herself with a solid staff: Rick Shaheen; her husband, Bob, Mark Podkul; Dean Howard; and the daughter/father tandem of Ali and Alex Belgiovane.

Madison was a 2001 Hempfield graduate who played two seasons at Penn State before concentrating on her chemical engineering degree.

The Spartans finished the 2021 season 12-6 overall and tied for second in the section with Pine-Richland behind Norwin. Hempfield lost a 2-1 decision to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals.

Madison said she will lean on returning starters to carry the load.

Leading the way are junior left fielder Olivia Orischak, senior center fielder Sydney Mitchell, senior third baseman Olivia Kline, senior shortstop Emma Hornyak, sophomore infielder Olivia Grimmer and sophomore middle infielder Sarah Podkul.

Madison is working with four young pitchers to replace Callie Sowers (Bloomsburg). Sophomores Hannah Uhrenek and Peyton Heisler saw some time in the circle when Sowers was out with an injury. Sophomore Maggie Howard and freshman Riley Miller are also vying for playing time.

“All the pitchers have been successful in travel ball,” Madison said. “They have a very high ceiling. The potential is there. We’ll need to be able to put runs on the scoreboard early until the pitchers settle in.”

The other big holes are replacing catcher Emma Hoffner (Ohio U) and right fielder Kelsi Terzolino (Pitt-Johnstown).

“We have very strong candidates for the catcher position,” Madison said. “It should be a competitive battle.”

Catchers listed on the roster are junior Emma Cervola, sophomore Rylie Fordyce, sophomore Alexandra Martorella, freshman Allie Cervola and sophomore Emily Griffith.

Senior Lauren Allison is among the players battling for an outfield spot.

“We have a strong group of underclassmen ready to step up,” Madison said. “The next few weeks will be crucial. We’ll learn a lot about the team in our two scrimmages.”

If Madison has a question, she’s able to call Kalp for advice.

“Coach Kalp had a tight time schedule when he did things at practice,” Madison said. “I have them, and I’m developing my own. I can even send them to him to look out.

“He told me I’ve brought Hempfield softball into the computer age because she used to go through a lot of pencils and paper.”

And while Kalp stays away from practice, Madison is confident he will be at the games watching from somewhere.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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