Senior Spotlight: Hempfield softball standout filled resume with championships, clutch hits

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Sunday, May 10, 2020 | 8:00 AM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

With a soft-spoken demeanor and somewhat unassuming presence at the plate, Ashley Orischak can be deceiving.

If you want to hear the Hempfield senior softball player make noise, put one over the plate.

Orischak had a penchant for delivering in clutch situations for the Spartans, who would have chased a sixth consecutive WPIAL championship in the largest classification had the coronavirus not wreaked havoc on PIAA spring sports.

A senior who had some of her best games in the playoffs, Orischak put together a sparkling resume playing for one of the state’s premier programs. She won three WPIAL titles and two PIAA championships.

Orischak was a staple as a designated hitter and was set to either occupy an outfield spot or play second base this season.

Last season, she batted .338, drove in 19 and scored 13 while recording 25 putouts, third-most for a season in program history.

She committed early, as a sophomore, to play collegiately at St. Francis (Pa.).

The shutdown has to be particularly tough on Hempfield players who were looking to make it six straight WPIAL titles, right?

It’s definitely been tough knowing that we won’t have to chance to make another run this year. We had a lot of great players coming back and another group of girls that were ready to put in the work. It’s been especially hard for the seniors, knowing that we wouldn’t have the chance to make another championship run.

Do they have a nickname for you? You’re not the most vocal player.

They don’t really have a nickname for me. I’m definitely not the most vocal, but I try to let my performance speak for itself.

Former and current players made a virtual “play catch” video for longtime coach Bob Kalp and his assistants. Do you think the video helped Coach Kalp with his softball withdrawal?

I think it did help him. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that’s as passionate about the game as Coach Kalp is. Hopefully it was a nice reminder of how much everyone misses it and the impact he’s had on the program.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from Coach Kalp?

It was probably the idea that if you want to be great, you have to trust the process and work every single day to be great at the small things. He has preached that since the first open gym I went to my freshman year and I’m sure, way before that. It shouldn’t sit well with you if you lose a game because of a lack of preparation because there’s always something we can be doing to get better.

What’s your favorite moment or memory from playing softball at Hempfield?

There’s definitely a lot of great memories, but it’d probably have to be winning the state title in 2018. No one expected us to be good after losing seven seniors. We came from behind after everyone thought we had already lost. It was such a great moment to be a part of with my best friends after everyone doubted us the entire season.

Are you guys having a virtual graduation? What about prom?

Right now, graduation is supposed to be in the middle of July, so hopefully we can walk instead of doing it online. They canceled prom, but I don’t know if or when they could have something in its place.

What did you like most about St. Francis, and do you think you can go in and make an immediate impact?

St. Francis had what I was looking for in a school and athletic program. I liked the energy of the team and focus on being successful on and off the field. I’m hoping to bring competitiveness and make an impact wherever I can. I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to do that.

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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