Plum slow-pitch softball team comes together fast to win title

Monday, November 27, 2017 | 11:00 PM

Evidently, the merger of an Outlaw and a Nitro produces an undefeated season that ends with a championship.

First-year Plum slow-pitch softball coach Eric Seigh didn't know what to expect when he formed this year's Plum Mustangs team in August. He said he had reservations though the team was loaded with players from two rival Plum travel teams: the Outlaws and Nitro.

“That was a pretty big concern I had going into the season,” said Seigh, who coached the Plum Outlaws Under-16 team to a World Series title over the summer. “That's the big challenge when you starting playing is that you have two shortstops, two pitchers and trying to find the right mix.”

Seigh found the perfect mix. With a 10-player roster that included five Nitro players and five Outlaws, the Mustangs proved to be too much for the rest of the Western Pa. Interscholastic Softball League. They went 17-0, including an 11-0 win over No. 2 seed Mt. Lebanon to capture Plum's second slow-pitch championship. Plum's first title came in 2015.

“I think there's a little bit more pride when you're doing it for the school,” Seigh said. “It's more special because these kids are coming together over a three-month period. We knew going into (the season) that this team was supremely talented.”

Plum outscored its opponents by an average score of 18-3, a margin that's the unofficial WPISL record.

But blowing teams out also presents challenges.

“When you're beating teams by 15 runs a game, it's hard to keep them focused, coming to practice and putting in the work,” Seigh said. “That was the challenge, to not play down to our competition.”

Seigh said he got the feeling his Mustangs were special when his team took both games of a doubleheader against defending champion Montour during the regular season. From that point, Plum was the team to beat. Second baseman Sommer Lewis led the Mustangs with a .698 batting average. Ashlyn Waitt led the team in RBIs (41) and slugging percentage (1.000), and Dee Pernice scored a team-high 34 runs.

The Mustangs didn't power their way to the title, hitting only 11 homers.

“We're not a home-run hitting team,” Seigh said. “We're small compared to other teams, so we have to rely on line drives and baserunning to score all of our runs.”

Lewis and Alexa Seigh tied for the team lead in doubles (six), and Pernice was tops in triples (six). Pitcher Tifani McElhose finished the season with a 16-0 record.

Seigh hopes this season's title is one of many to come. He said his two junior varsity teams could have made the postseason bracket at the varsity level and is excited for the future.

“The pipeline is loaded, and we have a very, very strong junior class that will be coming in next year,” Seigh said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.


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