Shady Side Academy softball program seeks rebound

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Saturday, April 2, 2022 | 11:01 AM


After a post-pandemic 1-9 season last year, Shady Side Academy is looking for quick improvement.

“I’m hoping to win a few more of our section games this year,” coach Rebecca Uhlean said. “Truth be told, it’s a pretty tough section for the level we’re at right now. We’re still a developing team. Almost all of our players don’t play softball outside of school ball. That’s not the case with most of the other schools we play.”

Preparation was made tougher with the academy’s two-week spring break, when only players from the immediate area were on hand.

Senior captains Ariya Tayal, Sophia White and Marmie McCormick are going to be relied on to start climbing the section ladder.

“They’re really solid, they know the game really well and are comfortable teaching newer players the ropes,” Uhlean said. “That’s really nice because we have 24 players on the roster, and with only three coaches, we really depend on those captains to help us out.”

Expected to start at shortstop this year will be Lexi Hogle, a key returning player.

Sophomore Mya Kearns, new to the school, will do the catching. Kearns also plays ice hockey, so she’ll miss some practices.

“We have some players that are concentrating on ice hockey, but they still love playing softball,” Uhlean said. “We try to work with their schedules as much as possible to make things work.

“Others new to the sport are eager to learn.”

Tayal and White will be the main pitchers. Dani Strauss and Hogle will also see action in the circle.

“I think we can improve,” White said. “We have a lot of talent coming in, which is funny because we have no freshmen, just sophomores, juniors and seniors. We’re looking forward to the season, and we’ll play as hard as we can. The coaches are instilling this grit in us.”

With a major renovation including the addition of artificial turf at the Bulldogs’ on-campus field, Shady Side will be playing its home games this season at Emmerling Park in Indiana Township.

“We have some hockey girls coming in who are very talented and athletic, so we’re excited about that,” said Tayal, who will play the middle infield when she’s not pitching.

Uhlean is in her third season as coach. She was an assistant for two years before being named to head the program, but the team never played because of the pandemic.

Uhlean grew up in the Chicago suburbs and attended Victor J. Andrew High School. She went to Pitt and played club softball there.

“I just stayed in Pittsburgh. I really love it here,” Uhlean said.

Assisting Uhlean will be John Hart, who primarily works with the pitches. Her father, Lou, though still living in the Chicago area, was coaxed by Rebecca to work remotely and move to the Pittsburgh area during the softball season.

“He’s been coaching since I started playing when I was five, so he’s had a lot of experience and I knew he could bring a lot to help us here,” she said.

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