Penn-Trafford softball prepares for tough section slate in Class 5A
Monday, March 18, 2019 | 6:44 PM
When new alignments came out, Penn-Trafford softball coach Denny Little looked at who was going to be in the Warriors’ section and came to a quick conclusion.
“Someone isn’t going to be happy at the end of the season,” he said.
With Class 6A runner-up Latrobe and Class 5A playoff teams Albert Gallatin and Connellsville moving in for this season to join the Warriors, as well as Franklin Regional and Kiski Area, who were postseason qualifiers, Section 1-5A has become crowded with competitive teams.
Little knows his team will have to survive a gauntlet if it is going to win a third consecutive section title, but sees the challenge as being a net positive.
“There are six playoff teams and only four spots, and that doesn’t even include the other two teams (Laurel Highlands and Armstrong), which may have improved,” Little said. “It’s a tough section, there’s no doubt. To be the best, you have to beat the best no matter what. If your section got tougher and you don’t make the playoffs, then you don’t deserve to get into the playoffs. I think it’s good to be in a tough section.”
The Warriors finished 16-4 overall and shared the section title with Franklin Regional last season. They were knocked off by runner-up Thomas Jefferson, 7-4, in the quarterfinals.
Penn-Trafford graduated five seniors, including Emma Nedley, who recently won Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors at Penn, but once again have a senior class waiting in the wings to take the lead.
First baseman Emma Armstrong, who led the team in hits last season; shortstop Morgan Nedley, Emma’s younger sister; and two-year starter at catcher, Carlee Lamacz, are seniors and returning starters. Armstrong is a Hartford recruit. Morgan led the team in batting average, home runs and runs batted in last season. Lamacz provides steady defense behind the plate.
All three are the heartbeat for the team as they prepare for their upcoming difficult slate. They hope not only to make the postseason again, but to win a playoff game for the first time in four years.
“We’re set up again to be led by our seniors, because they had a lot of opportunities to play as freshmen, sophomores and juniors,” Little said. “Emma’s a great leader, and the kids look up to her. She’ll step out there and do a good job. Morgan is a converted outfielder, and last year she ended up making some of the best plays I’ve seen at shortstop.”
Madison Forsythe is another senior who will see her first varsity action this year as an infielder.
The Warriors also return their top two pitchers in juniors Morgan Hilty and Sami Schickel. They have been sharing the circle since their freshman season.
“Those two have gone a combined 32-8 for us over the last two years, so they’ve done a good job,” Little said. “We also have a few freshmen that throw the ball well that may see some time depending on how things go.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer
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