Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week: June 7, 2021
Sunday, June 6, 2021 | 10:17 PM
It was a championship performance for the ages.
Bethel Park junior catcher Sandra Soltes had three hits, two home runs including a grand slam, three runs and eight RBIs in the Black Hawks’ 9-2 win over Canon-McMillan to win the WPIAL Class 6A softball crown.
“My performance to me has definitely sunk in,” Soltes said. “I received texts from my old coaches, family members, my college coaches and my friends on how proud they were of me, which made my performance more special.”
Black Hawks coach Heather Scott had a feeling Soltes might be ready for a big game well before the first pitch was thrown.
“Sandra goes into each game very well relaxed and focused,” Scott said. “Nothing really fazes her. She told me she learned at a young age to stay relaxed and don’t let things bother her, so it didn’t affect how she plays.”
It didn’t take long for the Pitt recruit to leave her mark in the game. After teammates Ali Sniegocki and Gianna Sciullo walked and Reagan Milliken was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Soltes crushed the second pitch of her at-bat over the left-field fence.
“The grand slam set the tone for us,” Scott said. “The energy in the dugout exploded after Sandra’s grand slam. It gave us a little cushion to start the game.”
Soltes said she was worried that she wouldn’t get a pitch to hit with Canon-McMillan starter Lauren Duke struggling with her control.
“I was expecting a strike eventually,” Soltes said. “When a pitcher gets into a spot like that, they look for anyway to get ahead and you have to take advantage of it. I went up to the plate knowing I was in a big spot and needed to produce.”
She wasn’t done producing.
After Duke settled down and the Big Macs cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, a two-run single by Soltes scored Sciullo and Milliken. Soltes would later score on a wild pitch to give Bethel Park some breathing room at 7-2.
“I felt the same throughout each at-bat,” Soltes said. “I have never been a nervous person, because I’ve realized I don’t perform well when I let my nerves get the best of me.”
The icing on the cake came with Milliken at first and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Soltes launched her second home run, again over the left-field fence for the final two runs of the game.
“Sandra’s power in both of those hits were unbelievable,” Scott said. “Her two-run home run may still be sailing.”
As a junior on a senior-laden team, Soltes was excited this tight group could be the first to win a WPIAL softball title in program history.
“This championship meant so much to me,” she said. “I knew that was our team’s goal in the beginning of the season, and knowing we checked that box is huge. Our team now knows our next goal is to win the state championship, and we all will do whatever we can to be able to say we did.”
The state playoffs start Monday as Bethel Park faces the No. 3 team out of District 3, Penn Manor. Scott admits she doesn’t know much about the Comets, but the WPIAL champs know what they need to do.
“We have to just go into that game like we have all year and play our game. We need to maintain our energy level and start focused throughout the game.”
2021 Trib HSSN Softball Players of the Week
Week 9 – Jaycee Haidzee, Highlands
Week 8 – Zoe Mangan, Chartiers Valley
Week 7 – Maddie Griffin, Ligonier Valley
Week 6 – Reagan Milliken, Bethel Park
Week 5 – Olivia Zimmerman, Indiana
Week 4 – Bella Hess, Chartiers-Houston
Week 3 – Lauren Yuhas, West Mifflin
Week 2 – Kailey Larcinese, Elizabeth Forward
Week 1 – Mia Edwards, Shenango
Tags: Bethel Park
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