Top of the lineup boosting Hampton softball toward playoff berth

Saturday, April 29, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The top of Hampton’s softball lineup is at the top of its game this season.

The Talbots’ 1-2-3 hitters in the batting order — Charlotte Lomb, Mackenzie Reese and Addy Maguire — are powering the team’s march to the WPIAL playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.

• Lomb, a junior shortstop, is batting .605 (23 for 38) from the leadoff spot with a team-high six home runs along with 17 RBIs through 11 games as of April 24.

• Reese, a junior third baseman, is hitting .500 (20 for 40) as the No. 2 batter with three home runs and a team-best 19 RBIs.

• Maguire, an Edinboro-bound senior catcher, is batting a team-high .647 (22 for 34) from the No. 3 spot with three home runs and 16 RBIs.

The threesome has shouldered the offensive load for the youthful Talbots (8-3, 5-3 in Section 3-4A as of April 24), who have only one senior on the 17-girl roster and start a handful of freshmen and sophomores.

“We always start off the game strong,” coach Ron Fedell said. “If we score a couple of runs, (the younger) kids relax. They realize they are not as dependent upon to drive in these guys, so they relax and actually, they play better.”

Lomb opened the spring with a home run in the Talbots’ first at-bat of the season, in a 10-0 victory over Fox Chapel, and the top of the lineup hasn’t slowed down. Lomb hit a grand slam in a loss to defending WPIAL Class 4A champion Beaver and added three-hit games in lopsided victories over Knoch, Ambridge, North Catholic and Blackhawk.

Reese has four three-hit games and helped beat Beaver, 10-5, on April 21 with a home run and five RBIs, and Maguire has five three-hit games, including a 3 for 3 effort with two home runs in a 16-0 five-inning victory over Blackhawk on April 19.

“I think we have shown that we can be a force to be reckoned with this year,” Maguire said. “I don’t anyone in the section thought we were going to be as good as we are.

“Even though we’ve lost three games, we have played really hard against teams and they’ve had to fight to win.”

The Talbots’ sluggers have received help from the other parts of the lineup. Sophomore pitcher Cassie Vidic and freshman first baseman Gianna Nelson combined to drive in all four runs in a 4-3 victory over Mars on April 10.

But the young Talbots have shown their inconsistency. Damaging innings cost them in losses to Beaver, Montour and Chartiers Valley.

The Talbots led Beaver, 4-2, after five innings but allowed five runs in the bottom of the sixth of a 7-4 loss. Montour scored seven runs in the seventh to blow open a close game and win 14-6, and Hampton led Chartiers Valley, 6-2, after two innings, but allowed 10 runs in the fourth of an eventual 16-6 loss on April 18.

“There is a lot of pressure on these kids,” Fedell said. “They expect … perfection. It’s unrealistic. We’re still trying to get them to relax. Some of them are freshmen and sophomores, and it’s their first significant action. Sometimes, they don’t think they can do it. But they wouldn’t be in those positions if they weren’t able to do it.”

Lomb said providing offensive firepower at the top of the lineup isn’t the only job for the team’s leaders. She said giving encouragement to the Talbots’ younger players is just as important.

“We definitely are a young team, and we’ve seen younger girls in our lineup kind of getting down on themselves,” Lomb said. “But I think at the same time, while we have a lot of young girls, we have a lot of really good leaders on our team. So I think that while being a younger team can come with some insecurities — whether in the field or at the plate — I think we also have good leaders who can bring up everybody.

“It goes a long way (to tell them), ‘We’ve all been there. Maybe you had a bad game … but you are young, and we’ve all been there and no one here is blaming you.’ Sometimes girls get down on themselves and feel like we lost the game because of one bad play or because they didn’t hit the ball. I think we do a really good job of telling the girls that one play or one hit didn’t ruin the game for us.”


More High School Softball

Trib 10: Baseball power rankings shaken up despite poor week of weather
Leechburg softball team proud to uphold playoff streak
Westmoreland County softball notebook: Southmoreland captures elusive section title
Close games sharpen Greensburg Central Catholic softball for battles ahead
Trib HSSN softball player of the week for May 1, 2023