Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week: Serra Catholic’s Nina Grandey
By: Don Rebel
Monday, April 15, 2019 | 10:09 PM
School: Serra Catholic
Serra Catholic was a perfect 3-0 last week as it soared into second place in Section 2-2A.
Eagles coach Denny Willaman is happy with his team’s 5-2 start overall, but knows it’s part of building a solid program.
“Expectations continue to grow. It has been a process the past few years as far as raising expectations,” he said.
Those rising expectations go for the team’s junior shortstop, Nina Grandey.
In victories over Northgate, Shady Side Academy and Apollo-Ridge on consecutive days, Grandey was 9 for 12 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs.
Of those nine hits, four were extra-base hits, with a double, two triples and a home run. She has eight extra-base hits on the season, including four home runs.
“She has always had power,” Willaman said. “It’s been awesome. I feel like she is picking her spots to open up her swing.”
Grandey is hitting .696 with 14 runs scored and 16 RBIs. However, Willaman said teams are not pitching around her because of her teammates surrounding her in the Eagles order.
“We have a great leadoff hitter in front of her in Maddie Carr and really good bats behind her with Lizzie and Lexi Fite, batting 3-4, and our 5-6 hitters, (Kaitlyn) Conard and (Isabella) Countryman are both hitting over .400. Nina is such a weapon on the bases with her speed, you have to pick your poison with her if you walk her.”
Willaman likes what he sees at the plate and in the field with Grandey.
“Right now, she is locking down the left side of the infield on defense at shortstop.”
As a sophomore last year, Grandey hit .547 with 19 runs and 15 RBIs.
Willaman said one of the things Grandey has improved on since last season was her situational hitting.
“I thought there were times last year with runners on base that she was a little too generous with her strike zone,” he said. “This year she is more disciplined and looking for something to drive with runners on, and if the bases are empty she is opening up and trying to get on base.”
Serra Catholic finished 11-5 last year and knocked off Shenango in the first round of the Class 2A district playoffs before losing to Chartiers-Houston in the quarterfinals.
Headed toward the second half of the regular season, the Eagles hope to soar high to reach the goals they set for themselves.
“The girls set their own goals this year,” Willaman said. “They set high goals and have been working like crazy to achieve them. They have all bought in to what we want as a program moving forward. I’m very proud of the togetherness these girls have shown.”
Haleigh Zimmerman, Indiana
After starting 0-2 in Section 1-4A and 3-3 overall, Indiana climbed the ladder with a perfect 3-0 week thanks to Haleigh Zimmerman. The senior was 3 for 9 at the plate with a double and three RBIs. However, Zimmerman’s biggest contributions came in the circle when she was the winning pitcher in all three games with three earned runs allowed in 21 innings with 15 strikeouts in triumphs over Greensburg Salem, Uniontown and Highlands.
Jess Dean, South Park
South Park began last week hosting defending WPIAL champion Southmoreland in a battle for third place in Section 3-3A. Jess Dean supplied the offense with a solo home run in the Eagles’ 1-0 shutout of the Scotties. Four days later, the senior went 4 for 5 with three runs scored and a pair of runs batted in with a double and another home run as South Park cruised past Steel Valley, 12-1.
Alyssa Cappa, Riverview
Riverview started the week under .500 in Section 2-2A and even overall with a 2-2 mark. Two wins in two games and the Raiders have cracked the top four. Alyssa Cappa was 3 for 8 with three runs scored in the two section wins. The junior also she struck out 12 in an 8-5 win over Shady Side Academy. She then fanned 16 batters in a 7-2 victory over Northgate, raising her strikeout total to 72 in 36 innings.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.