Plum slow-pitch softball searching for 3rd straight league championship
Friday, September 27, 2019 | 7:20 PM
The Plum varsity girls slow-pitch softball team saw its 36-game winning streak snapped Sept. 5 with a 16-2 loss at North Hills.
But the two-time defending Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Softball League champions bounced back in a big way three days later with a sweep of Mt. Lebanon by a combined 17 runs.
Then, two days after that, in the rematch against North Hills, the Mustangs broke out the bats and used solid pitching and defense to top the Indians, 15-2.
“It was a bad game all around the first time against North Hills,” Plum coach Eric Seigh said. “But the good thing about that was they rebounded and returned the favor. Since then, they haven’t taken anything lightly and have really responded.”
Outsiders might have thought that Plum, which graduated nearly its entire lineup from last year, would not be as strong this fall. But the team, with contributions in all three phases up and down the lineup, has vaulted itself to a 9-1 record and the top spot in the league standings.
“We know we still have the targets on our backs when we play other teams,” Seigh said. “Teams, I’m sure, couldn’t wait to get their shot at us. But these girls have held up pretty well and welcomed the challenge each time. There’s a great tradition here, and these girls want to be a part of it.”
The stretch run to the playoffs continues Sunday as Plum hosts Mt. Pleasant in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.
On Oct. 6, a rivalry is renewed as the owners of the past six league championships meet at Plum in the Mustangs’ regular-season finale.
Montour captured championships in 2013, ‘14 and ‘16, while Plum added the 2015 title to the ones from the past two seasons.
With deep junior varsity and junior high programs, players each year are anxious to rise up get their opportunity on varsity.
“We had a group of girls ready to show what they could do on varsity,” said Delaney White, a senior and the only returning regular varsity player from last year. “It has a lot to do with patience and waiting your turn. This year, it was more about rebooting than rebuilding.”
White, the team’s starting pitcher, along with the Mustangs defense, has surrendered an average of just 4.8 runs a game in a league where teams can put up some big run totals.
“Delaney is a smart pitcher,” Seigh said. “In slow-pitch, people think there isn’t much strategy behind it. She can get deep into a count and take advantage of that. The defense this year is brand new, and they’re doing a great job behind her.”
At the same time, the Plum offense is averaging 12.5 runs. Six players are batting better than .500, led by sophomore Cassidy Starr at .667 (22 of 33) and senior Sydney Charrie at .590 (23 of 39).
Starr has a team-best 24 runs batted in, and senior Natalie Stickel has delivered 19 RBIs, good for second on the team. Seven players have 10 or more RBIs.
“I think the hitting is contagious,” Charrie said. “We feed off each other. That’s what a team does. You play as a team, hit as a team and field as a team.”
Seigh said the second game of last Sunday’s doubleheader sweep of Seneca Valley showed the fight and determination of the team. The Raiders scored early on Plum mistakes and led by five in the sixth before Plum exploded for 10 runs to rally for a 16-11 win.
“I am really proud and excited about this team because we work very well together,” White said. “We don’t give up in any game and are playing well. If we continue to work hard and play to our abilities, we can go far again. Hopefully, that’s to another title.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .