Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week: Freedom’s Madison Slowinski
By: Don Rebel
Monday, April 8, 2019 | 10:01 PM
From 2011-15, the Freedom softball team did not win a section game. The Bulldogs were 0-62 in section during that five-year span and 5-74 overall.
Bill Boggs was the head coach for the last two years of that forgetful run and has helped orchestrate a turnaround in the program.
“My goal from Day 1 was to build a solid and respectable team, but unfortunately that meant starting from scratch and taking it painfully slow,” said Boggs, who is two weeks into his sixth season.
“The turning point came after my current senior class led by Madison Slowinski and Trisha Speicher became freshmen and broke that (section) winless streak, and then in their sophomore and junior seasons, we made the playoffs for only the second and third time in school history.”
Freedom’s postseason berth in 2017 was the first since their only other playoff appearance back in 1984.
The Bulldogs are off and running in 2019 with a 5-0 record in Section 4-2A and a perfect 7-0 mark overall thanks to a 4-0 run last week. The play of now-senior Madison Slowinski at the plate and in the circle is leading the way.
In the four wins against Western Beaver, New Brighton and back-to-back victories over Riverside, Slowinski was 8 for 11 with six runs scored and five RBIs.
“It’s simply due to her being fundamentally sound with her mechanics,” Boggs said of her hitting. “She simply has great patience with her pitch selection and a strong desire to win.”
She drew five walks in those games and boasts a .654 batting average for the season. Boggs said there is help in the Freedom lineup to make sure teams don’t pitch around Slowinski.
“I make it hard to do that because Maddy is typically surrounded by two of my other big hitters. Trisha Speicher and Haley Scheck (both hitting over .500) make it hard and teams have to pick their poison so to speak.”
Slowinski also has had great success in the circle. She is 6-0 with a 1.09 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings pitched. She was the winning pitcher in all four games last week, yielding no earned runs in 17 2/3 innings with 29 strikeouts.
“She has been among the strikeout leaders in recent years, and she should most likely rank among the leaders again this season,” Boggs said. “But now I have the luxury of having a solid No. 2 pitcher in (sophomore) Tara Speicher, so I can manage Maddy’s pitch count unlike years past so to keep her ready but rested as the season wears on.”
Boggs said Slowinski has help in the leadership role for his Bulldogs team made up of a number seniors and sophomores.
“Maddy, along with Trisha and Amber Baumiller, are all soon to be four-year lettermen, and the trio also are my team captains for second straight season. So they serve as great leaders by providing moral support along with always leading by example.”
While Freedom has made the playoffs two straight years, the Bulldogs are looking for success in the postseason this spring after losing in the first round both times.
Whatever happens though, Boggs said Freedom will do it together.
“We’re not just a team, but more much more than that, we are family,” he said. “And I don’t just mean my varsity squad, but that family includes my junior high squad. We semi regularly practice together so my core group of seniors along with rest of varsity help the younger girls to also buy in to keep the FHS program moving onward and upwards. It truly is a great story of time, patience and hard work starting to finally pay dividends.”
Gianna Sciullo, Bethel Park
After opening the season with three Section 1-6A victories in March, the Black Hawks continued to fly high last week with two more section wins thanks to a swinging sophomore. Bethel Park outfielder Gianna Sciullo enjoyed a huge week at the plate, first going 4 for 5 with a home run and six RBIs in a 16-3 rout at Mt. Lebanon, then she went 3 for 3 two days later as the Hawks improved to 5-0 atop the section with a 8-7 triumph at home over Upper St. Clair.
Emma Little, Penn-Trafford
Emma Little went against her name last week and came up big for undefeated Penn-Trafford. In two of the three wins, Little was the Warriors’ offensive star. She had a pair of singles and a grand slam to drive in six runs Tuesday in a 14-4 rout of Kiski Area. Two days later, Little was 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles in a 9-1 Section 1-5A win over Laurel Highlands.
Elizabeth Arnold, Vincentian Academy
Vincentian Academy picked up two more victories last week to improve to 4-0 and in first place in Section 2-2A. Senior Elizabeth Arnold picked up wins in the circle last week in a 3-0 win over Serra Catholic and a 3-1 win over Riverview. In the Serra Catholic game, Arnold went 2 for 2 while dominating in the circle, limiting the Eagles to only three hits while striking out a stunning 18 batters in a performance fit for royalty.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.