Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week: Week ending June 12, 2022

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Sunday, June 12, 2022 | 9:03 PM


The Laurel softball machine is used to playing in June.

You have to go back to 2017 to find the last time a Spartans season ended before the PIAA postseason.

However, in the last three seasons, Laurel entered the state playoffs as WPIAL champion. That run ended a few weeks back in a WPIAL semifinals loss to rival Neshannock.

Laurel has regrouped as the No. 3 seed out of the WPIAL with a pair of PIAA wins and has gone further in the state playoffs than those recent golden teams.

“The amount of talent in the WPIAL playoffs prepares us more than anything for the PIAA playoffs,” Laurel coach Frank Duddy said. “Steel sharpens steel. We played some of our best softball in the district playoffs against some very good teams. I feel like each game prepared us a little more for the next. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t want that 2A title, but that semifinal loss helped us refocus.”

Spring may be winding down, but Laurel loves enjoying autumn days at the field.

Leading the Spartans in the circle is standout sophomore Autumn Boyd.

In the PIAA 2A opener Monday against District 10 champion Reynolds, junior Abbie Miles led the offense with a two-homer, seven-RBI game, and Boyd contributed two hits and a long home run.

“The hitting was definitely contagious in that game,” Duddy said. “Everybody was smashing the ball. Autumn always hits the ball hard. She has plenty of power. She usually hits line drives to the outfield gaps, but she lifted one in that Reynolds game that cleared the fence by at least 30 feet.”

After Laurel’s 10-run victory in Round 1, they faced another champion in the quarterfinals Thursday. District 5 winner Everett had just eliminated Frazier in the first round, 3-2.

After struggling in the circle Monday, Boyd returned to her dominant ways against Everett.

She blanked Everett on four hits while registering 15 strikeouts. She also chipped in on offense with a pair of hits, including a triple, in the 5-0 win.

“She came out fresh and motivated,” Duddy said.

Boyd was part of a rotation Duddy used in the circle this season, so she might not have the big numbers compared to some of the top pitchers around the WPIAL.

“Autumn is one of three very good pitchers on our team. We use all of them during the regular season to try to keep them all fresh. But if you break Autumn’s numbers down by game, I would guess she is near the top in some categories. For example, she has started 13 games this season and has 153 strikeouts against some very decent teams. She pitched against Neshannock three times and once against Beaver, as well as all but three playoff innings. I’d say that’s pretty good.”

As she winds down the midway point of her scholastic career, there is so much about Boyd’s game that has Duddy and Laurel fans excited for the next two seasons.

“Autumn fields her position (shortstop) very well. She has great mobility and a strong arm. She has one error all season. At the plate, she has great discipline and very good patience. She’s always looking for a pitch to drive.

“I think the movement of her pitches has gotten better. She makes that ball dance. Her velocity is still really good, but I think she is moving it a lot more. She’s just a sophomore. She’s going to get better.”

The immediate future for Boyd and the Spartans includes a fourth battle with WPIAL 2A champion Neshannock in the PIAA semifinals Monday at Westminster College.

“We’ve got some confidence going right now,” Duddy said. “We trust in our abilities and believe in each other. I feel like we are as prepared as we’re going to be, and we’re anxious to get on the field. Neshannock is a very talented team, and they’re having a great season. It’s going to take a strong performance from Autumn, mistake free defense and we have got to put pressure on their defense. If it’s anything like the first three we played, it should be fun.”

2022 Trib HSSN Softball Players of the Week

Week 9 – Jenna Clontz, Armstrong

Week 8 – Payton List, Beaver

Week 7 – Mia Smith, Penn-Trafford

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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