Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week for May 23, 2022

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Monday, May 23, 2022 | 11:40 PM


Veteran high school teams that have a roster of players who have had a taste of the sweet and bitter of the postseason sometimes need to bring their emotions down a level to remain focused on the task at hand.

The flip side of that is a young and inexperienced lineup that can be intimidated by the one-and-done mentality of the district playoffs.

Penn-Trafford is very young; however, the Warriors leaned on a wily veteran to get through the first two rounds of the WPIAL playoffs last week and into the Class 5A semifinals.

“Since we are such a young team, with 45% freshmen, I am not sure how much the team was chomping at the bit,” Penn-Trafford coach Denny Little said. “I can assure you that there were a few players who definitely wanted to turn in quality performances in the playoffs. Mia of course was at the top of that list. She has been laser focused since the first game of the year.”

Senior Mia Smith was sizzling in the circle last week, beginning with her first-round performance against Plum.

“Mia did turn it up a notch since entering the playoffs,” Little said. “She started the Plum game on fire, and by the seventh inning, she was throwing just as hard or even harder. She kept pounding the strike zone, producing weak contact or striking batters out with a wide variety of pitches and locations.”

Smith threw a two-hitter and struck out 11 as the Warriors blanked the Mustangs, 10-0.

Two days later, it was more of the same from Smith as she shut down a Shaler team that had just scored 14 runs in a first-round win.

“It was much of the same against a very strong Shaler lineup,” Little said. “She was all around the plate hitting her spots, working ahead, as well as making the hitters go after her pitch.”

Smith allowed three hits and struck out 13 as she picked up her second straight shutout, 5-0.

The Pitt-Johnstown recruit helped herself with the bat in both games, something Little has come to expect.

“In both games, she has done her job with the bat, donating a few hits and knocking in a few runs,” he said. “I enjoy the fact that she has the ability to knock the ball over the fence as well. She had a grand slam in a game earlier this season. It is just a bonus to have such a presence in the circle, to be able to help herself out with the bat.”

For the season Smith is batting over.300 with five extra-base hits and 18 RBIs.

The strong senior season is no surprise after Smith played a big part in the Warriors’ 2019 PIAA title as a freshman.

There was no gold last spring, but a strong regular season had Penn-Trafford as the No. 1 seed in the 5A playoffs before a loss to eventual champion North Hills in the district quarterfinals.

“We always have had a strong offense, but I knew coming in, way back 2019, that this girl was going to be the difference maker for our squad,” Little said. “Mia’s strengths are her laser focus and composure in the circle. She has the ability to command all her pitches while pitching with power. She leads by example and also speaks up when needed to get the younger players on task and focused. We have been blessed to have had this kid for four years.”

Smith will bring her career record of 40-6 into the Warriors’ semifinal matchup Tuesday against Chartiers Valley.

“Chartiers is a hot team,” Little said. “We have run into some hot teams before. Mia has experience and has drawn back on that to help her prepare for the upcoming contest. She is also smart. Just the other day she mentioned in an article that seeding means nothing when it comes to playoff time. Everyone can jump up and beat anybody.”

2022 Trib HSSN Softball Players of the Week

Week 6 – Casey Barton, Seton LaSalle

Week 5 – Addy Frye, Neshannock

Week 4 – Abby Scheller, North Hills

Week 3 – Bella Hess and Paige McAvoy, Chartiers-Houston

Week 2 – Emma Augustine, Yough

Week 1 – Abby Quickel, Bethel Park

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