Shady Side Academy softball looks toward promising future

Saturday, June 16, 2018 | 12:41 AM

It was a season of revival for the Shady Side Academy softball team, which finished with a 7-3 record and was second in Section 2-2A before losing to Neshannock in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

“We've had problems getting enough girls on the team the last few years,” SSA coach Dave Havern said. “We rostered 15 girls and lost in the first round to a very fine Neshannock squad. Overall, we really felt pretty good about the season, especially since we had no seniors.”

The Indians were led by veteran junior captains Trinity Murphy and Kate Hart. Murphy hit .750 with a 1.188 slugging percentage and 25 RBIs, and Hart finished with a .655 average with a 1.310 slugging percentage. She also was the No. 1 pitcher. They both hit four home runs.

“They did a fabulous job of leading our younger players,” Havern said. “They really set the tone for our team. They also did an admirable job mentoring their younger teammates.”

Havern also cited the performance of several young players.

Sophomore Bella Faiello hit .452 with two game-winning hits as the No. 3 hitter.

“We played her at second, shortstop and catcher, and she responded wherever we put her,” he said. “Her other infield partners, Julia Lazzariss at first and Molly Skvorak at third really came a long way. Rose Genstein, a sophomore outfielder, brought an unbelievable level of intensity and effort to the squad, and it rubbed off on everyone.”

Sara Burr, a freshman, established herself as the team's catcher and clean-up hitter.

“It's going to be real nice having a strong catcher in the lineup for the next few years,” he said.

Chayla Edwards, a junior Division I hockey recruit headed to Wisconsin, was a power hitter.

“She is one of the best athletes in SSA's last couple decades and really picked it up fast,” Havern said. “Her defensive partner on the ice, Bailey Loehrke, also new to softball, ended up being one of our most productive players.”

Havern spoke with pride about the determination and work ethic of another player.

“I think the player that most exemplifies how our team progressed this year was freshman Brenna Fouser. Always the first one at practice, she worked harder than anyone. She was brand new and struggled through some early frustrations, but she just kept coming back each and every day. By the end of the season, Brenna ended up being a part-time starter and a real steady defensive player. It was just a great example of sheer force of will to get better. Her performance pretty much reflected the team's overall attitude.”

Havern eagerly is awaiting the 2019 season.

“With 15 girls coming back and a nice number of players coming up from our middle school program, we feel pretty good about achieving our goal of creating a very competitive and sustainable softball program at SSA,” he said. “We know we're not anywhere finished with the process but feel real good about the foundation we're building. The best is yet to come. We're real excited about their future. They've got a bunch of talent, and all have a real bright upside.”

Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.


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