Penn-Trafford’s Piconi gets her mojo back at plate in time for WPIAL softball playoffs

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Monday, May 23, 2022 | 4:32 PM


There is a marked difference in Kylee Piconi’s confidence — and her batting average — lately.

As it turns out, the two things are not mutually exclusive.

The Penn-Trafford junior shortstop has sparked the Warriors softball team through two rounds of the WPIAL playoffs, all the while ending a hitting slump that followed her around like her shadow.

Her solo home runs in back-to-back games helped Penn-Trafford (17-2) reach the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals. The Warriors will face No. 11 Chartiers Valley (15-4) for the right to play for a championship.

“She worked on her mechanics, and it is paying off,” Warriors senior pitcher Mia Smith said. “She pepped us up with both home runs. She is hard on herself, even harder than I am on myself.”

Piconi was hitting .441 early in the season as the leadoff hitter.

But over a seven-game stretch that closed the regular season, she was a lean 3 for 21.

“It was bad,” she said. “I was fighting a big slump. I took the initiative to change it.”

But then, with a powerful swing in a first-round game at Norwin, she was back.

How does an .857 average in the playoffs sound?

Piconi launched a homer and went 3 for 4 as the No. 2 seed Warriors routed Plum, 10-0. She followed with a 3-for-3 effort and another homer in Thursday’s 5-0 victory over Shaler at Plum.

Both times, she batted second. She also dabbled with the No. 6 and 7 spots throughout the season.

“I told coach I was feeling the pressure at the top, and I wanted to move down,” Piconi revealed. “It made a big difference.”

Coach Denny Little has a number of productive hitters, but his job is to put them in the right place on the assembly line to produce results.

“She is getting good contact on the ball,” Little said. “She made a few adjustments, and they worked for her.”

During the slump, she had three walks, was hit by a pitch and put down a sacrifice bunt.

“So she was still over a .300 base percentage,” Little said.

But Piconi is doing much more than that now. She has broken out in the postseason.

And to think she grew up a baseball player.

“The Rapp twins (McKenzie and Maddie) talked me into playing softball,” Piconi said. “I got on board.”

Piconi is hitting .375 with four doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs, 21 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.

Little said she is more comfortable with higher stakes.

“She is better against better pitching,” Little said. “Which is why she is hot again. I was never too worried. There are ebbs and flows.”

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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