Trib HSSN softball player of the week for May 1, 2023

Monday, May 1, 2023 | 10:54 PM

Serra Catholic senior Caroline Malandra is a third baseman by trade, but she has had the itch to pitch an inning or two of high school softball before her scholastic career ends.

When your star player is leading the district in batting with a .750 average, how can a coach say no?

So in a blowout win for first-place Serra Catholic last Monday against The Ellis School, Malandra got her wish.

“She has been bugging me for two years about pitching,” Serra Catholic coach Denny Willaman said. “She pitched well. She even wanted us to call locations for her.”

Malandra pitched two of the three innings to get the victory in the 16-0 win. She allowed only one hit, walked none and struck out six.

But this is not about what the Bridgewater College recruit did in the circle. This is all about what she does in the batter’s box.

Last week was a perfect example of her dominance at the plate.

On Monday in the win over Ellis School, Malandra was 2 for 2 with three runs scored, three RBIs and a home run.

The next day in a nonsection victory over Brooke (WV), she was 3 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBIs in another double-digit victory, 10-0.

Finally on Thursday, she finally made an out. The district’s leading hitter was 3 for 4 with two runs, two RBIs and another home run in a 9-2 section win over Steel Valley.

“She has been locked in all year,” Willaman said. “Her first at-bat against Steel Valley, she was fooled on an off-speed pitch and grounded out. I knew what was coming. Her home run that game was a bomb to center field.”

Malandra said she loves being one of the leaders on this team, both in the dugout and at the plate, as evidenced by the win over the Ironmen.

“It took us a few innings to get going,” she said. “We needed a spark, and once I hit that home run, I feel like our spirit and energy was a lot higher.

“I feel like mentally, we’re getting there as a team, but that’s the one thing we have struggled with. We have all the talent in the world, but we just need to make sure we’re all there because we all need each other.”

For the season, she is batting .750 with 29 runs scored and 27 RBIs.

So what makes her such a lethal hitter?

“Her approach is the best I’ve seen in 20 years,” Willaman said. “She is stronger. She is more intense this year, but relaxed and focused with great vision. Last year, I felt like she left her zone a little early in some counts. This year, she is so much more patient and picky early in counts. I’m very proud of her for making such a huge adjustment.”

Malandra and her fellow Serra seniors would love to end their scholastic career by helping to win the school’s first softball championship.

The Eagles have a one-game lead over Greensburg Central Catholic in Section 2-2A and are 13-2 overall.

“We’ve been taking it like baby steps,” Malandra said. “Our first goal is to win section, then make it to states because the softball program has never done that, and hopefully win some gold.”

The first step can be clinched with a win over GCC on Wednesday.

“We have Apollo-Ridge on Monday and honestly that is all we are focused on,” Willaman said before that game was rained out. “The girls have been locked in going day to day and we will keep it that way.”

2023 Trib HSSN Softball Players of the Week:

Week 4 Shelby Telegdy , Elizabeth Forward

Week 3 – Ella Richey, Chartiers-Houston

Week 2 – Shaylyn Shall, Western Beaver

Week 1 – Olivia Zimmerman, Indiana


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Trib HSSN softball team of the week for May 1, 2023