Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week: West Mifflin’s Isabella Farmer
By: Don Rebel
Monday, April 1, 2019 | 8:04 PM
School: West Mifflin
Last year, West Mifflin softball broke a three-year postseason drought by finishing fourth in Section 2-4A and posting an 11-9 overall record.
While the Titans’ playoff stay didn’t last long after losing to Indiana, 11-9, in the first round, they hope that was just a first step.
“I told the girls last season when I started that every season we begin a new journey, but have the same mission,” second-year West Mifflin coach Erik Hilligsberg said. “If we stay focused on the process, the results will take care of themselves. While we have played well this first week we haven’t accomplished anything yet as a program. (Class) 4A has a lot of great well-established teams in it.”
The Titans have taken advantage of the turf surface at West Mifflin by getting off to a 2-0 start in Section 2-4A, 5-0 overall with four wins coming at home.
Isabella Farmer has helped lead the way.
She is 9 for 15 with four doubles, a triple and a home run, with 7 runs scored and 10 RBIs to go along with two walks.
Her slugging percentage is 1.200 and she has an on-base percentage of .667.
“Izzy has always been one of the hardest working players on our team, but she really made it a goal this off-season to focus on improving her hitting mechanics,” Hilligsberg said. “She started to turn the corner at the end of last season, and it has continued into this season so far, as well.
“She put in a lot of time and worked extremely hard all winter long. We added in real-time motion tracking metrics this off-season, along with regular weight room workouts, and I think that has helped not only her, but all of our players tremendously.”
Farmer also has shined with her glove at first base.
“Izzy has always been a consistently reliable defensive performer for us,” Hilligsberg said. “She was one of our defensive MVP’s last season and is off to a very solid start again this year in the field. She will be tough to replace next season once she graduates.”
The Titans have plenty of young talent on the roster, which brings out another positive aspect from Farmer, according to Hilligsberg.
“Izzy has always been one of our most vocal leaders, even back in middle school when I coached her there. She is always communicating coverages to our defense, cheering or trying to motivate or pick up other players,” he said. “The one thing that I really like about this team is that the girls all get along on and off the field. They all communicate, strategize and analyze in game situations, and as one of our senior leaders, Izzy is an instrumental part of that.”
Hilligsberg feels the biggest growth in Farmer’s game from her junior season to the early part of her senior campaign has been at the plate.
“The most notable difference has been her hitting,” he said. “This year she really took it personal to develop and improve her game offensively, and so far this season she has. That is a direct reflection of her work ethic and her commitment to this team. I am very proud of her.”
As far as success as a team, Farmer is just part of the puzzle, as the Titans hope to be major players in the chase for the new-look Section 2-4A crown.
“As far as section play, we had a nice win (last) week over Belle Vernon,” Hilligsberg said, “but you look at what they, EF and TJ have accomplished over the last several seasons and that is the level that we want to get our program to. Those are very well-coached programs that have a lot of outstanding ball players in them.
“We took a small step forward last season by making the playoffs, and hopefully we can take another step this year.”
Rachel Martindale, North Allegheny
It has been a “grand” start to the season for Martindale and her North Allegheny teammates. In the season opener, Martindale was one of three Tigers to register three hits, plus she scored three runs in a 19-4 rout of Fox Chapel. Then, against four-time defending WPIAL champion Hempfield, Martinedale was 3 for 3, reached base five times and broke open a close game with a grand slam as North Allegheny rolled to an 11-6 road victory.
Natalie Marshall, Avonworth
After winning doubleheaders the first two days of the season, Avonworth began the week and finished off its Myrtle Beach trip with a 9-0 victory over Portsmouth, Ohio, where junior outfielder Natalie Marshall had a pair of hits. When the Antelopes returned home to face defending Section 1-2A champ Seton LaSalle, Marshall was 3 for 3 with a pair of RBIs as Avownorth improved to 6-0 with a 14-7 win.
Trisha Speicher, Freedom
Speicher has delivered the power and her Freedom teammates have benefited with a 3-0 start overall, 2-0 in Section 4-2A. In section wins over Mohawk and Neshannock and a nonsection triumph over South Side Beaver, the senior has been dominant with nine hits in 12 at bats, seven runs scored, five RBIs, a double, a triple and three home runs, including a pair of round trippers in the game against the Warriors.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.