Penn Hills senior shortstop excited for return to diamond

Saturday, March 27, 2021 | 10:01 AM

Improvement is a key word in the Penn Hills softball program.

After missing last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Indians are hoping to improve from their sixth-place finish in Section 2-5A in 2019.

The Indians are led by senior shortstop Irlynn Richardson.

“She’s a good kid,” coach Rich Burkhart said. “She was (going to be a) four-year starter but lost last year. I’m looking for big things from her this year being a team leader.”

The multifaceted infielder believes her team could make a push toward the playoffs.

“We have a lot of new talent, so I am sure we can make that happen,” Richardson said. “I am so excited for this season and what it has to bring. This year will be filled with many memories that I am sure I will never forget.”

Richardson has played softball for nine years and has been a shortstop throughout her high school career. She also has seen time at third base and in the outfield.

She plans to continue her career at Lincoln University, where she will pursue a degree in nursing.

Lincoln is in southern Chester County, 45 miles from Philadelphia. The school is a member of the NCAA Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

The Lions’ first-year coach Renee Clarke landed eight high school seniors on her recruiting trail for the 2022 season including Richardson, who was recruited as a middle infielder.

“Irlynn is a very talented student-athlete who gave her verbal commitment after her visit to campus,” Clarke told the college’s website. “Accomplished in the classroom and on the field, she will make an immediate impact on our program. I look forward to working with Irlynn for the next four years.”

Along with softball, the athletic Richardson, who earned the Pride and Respect Class Award, has competed in tennis, volleyball, bowling, swimming, basketball and track.

Richardson is one of four seniors on the Penn Hills club, along with Chloe Campbell, Tayleace White and Brianna Mack. All three can play first base. Campbell also pitches and catches. White and Mack also are outfielders.

The Indians’ starting pitcher is sophomore Mara Wade.

“During practices, we mostly work on fundamentals,” Richardson said. “The basic throwing, catching, groundball work, hitting off the tee and hitting off the pitching machine are always good to work on.”

Penn Hills finished 5-15 in 2019 and has not qualified for the WPIAL softball playoffs since 2007 when the Indians ended up 10-7 overall. That also was the last time they were able to post a winning record.

Penn Hills remains in Class 5A this season but now is a member of Section 1, joining Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Indiana, Kiski Area, Plum, and Woodland Hills.

The Indians are set to play a nonsection game April 6 at McKeesport, followed by their section opener April 7 at Indiana.


More High School Softball

Trib 10: Baseball power rankings shaken up despite poor week of weather
Leechburg softball team proud to uphold playoff streak
Westmoreland County softball notebook: Southmoreland captures elusive section title
Close games sharpen Greensburg Central Catholic softball for battles ahead
Trib HSSN softball player of the week for May 1, 2023