North Allegheny softball makes short work of Hempfield

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021 | 9:39 PM


Call it stunning. Call it uncharacteristic.

Hempfield softball coach Bob Kalp is calling it what it was.

“A bad, bad day at the office,” Kalp said after his team was flattened Wednesday by visiting North Allegheny, 15-3, in five innings at Robert Kalp Field.

No. 3 Hempfield (4-3, 1-2) was out of sync from the start, and No. 4 North Allegheny (4-5, 2-1) kept runners moving through the turnstiles in a Section 1-6A game that was stopped early because of the 10-run rule.

The Tigers led 8-0 after three innings and erupted for seven runs in the fifth for the knockout punch.

“We made a ton of mental mistakes,” Kalp said. “And we didn’t hit. We’re a young team that can’t accept a little adversity. You can’t hide inexperience.”

Kalp, in his 25th year guiding the Spartans, could not recall his team getting mercy-ruled on its home field.

Longtime assistant Dick Albright also was stumped.

“It has nothing to do with the field,” Kalp said.

Penn-Trafford beat the Spartans, 12-2, in a five-inning game two years ago. But that game was played at Seton Hill.

North Allegheny avenged a 15-0, three-inning loss to the Spartans the last time the teams met, in the 2019 WPIAL Class 6A final. Hempfield walloped the Tigers to capture its fifth straight championship.

Scar tissue aside, North Allegheny came to play in its latest shot at the champs.

“There is a lot of history with us and Hempfield,” North Allegheny coach Morgan Vescovi said. “They are always the team to beat. It feels good to come here and wipe the slate clean and start fresh.”

Hempfield again played without senior pitcher Callie Sowers, who was not available for the game but is expected back soon. She returned Tuesday after finally getting medically cleared to return from a broken thumb. She was the winning pitcher and homered in a 13-1 win over Butler.

Kalp said he found out just a few hours before Wednesday’s game that Sowers would not be playing.

“The team was excited to get her back, but then our balloon got a hole punched in it,” Kalp said. “It’s not an excuse. But I had to redo the lineup.”

Vescovi said the Tigers expected to see Sowers, but her absence did not affect their gameplan.

“It didn’t change our approach,” Vescovi said. “Our mindset wasn’t like, ‘Ok, we got this.’ Hempfield is a good team.”

North Allegheny teed off for 13 hits against Hempfield pitchers Hannah Uhrinek and reliever Margaret Howard — freshmen — including a three-run homer from junior catcher Sydni Junker that made it 7-0.

The Tigers loaded the bases in three innings and benefited from several errors, wild pitches and fielding mistakes by Hempfield, such as slow-developing fielder’s choices and base-running miscues.

“You can’t make those mental errors,” Kalp said. “It’s on me, too. We have to clean things up and get back to work (Thursday).”

Sophomore Meghan McDonough had three hits, including a triple, for the Tigers. Freshman Carlyn Vaupel, senior Lauren Haywood and senior Ashley Solenday each had two hits, with Haywood driving in three runs.

“This was a 17-player effort,” Vescovi said. “A complete team win. And it’s good timing. It gives momentum heading into our next game Friday.”

North Allegheny lost to Norwin on Tuesday, 9-2.

Junior Emma Hornyak had a run-scoring single to make it 8-1 in the fourth, but the Tigers batted around in the top of the fifth with senior Kendall Trunzo delivering a two-run triple for the sixth hit of the inning.

Freshman Anne Melle was the winning pitcher for the Tigers.

Uhrinek took the loss for Hempfield.

Senior catcher Emma Hoffner singled, doubled and drove in a run for Hempfield. Freshman Olivia Grimmer also had an RBI.

Junior Sydney Mitchell and freshman Sarah Podkul each had a double for the Spartans.

“In 2019, we lost big to North Allegheny early in the season, and we lost to Norwin,” Hoffner said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we know we can come back from this.”

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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