Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week: Baldwin
By: Don Rebel
Monday, April 8, 2019 | 8:56 PM
The Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week has undergone a lot of changes from a year ago, but one thing that remains constant is the winning. This week’s honoree is the Baldwin Highlanders.
Along with Sto-Rox, Baldwin is the most decorated softball team in WPIAL history with 10 district titles.
The Highlanders were Section 1-6A champions a year ago, reaching the WPIAL semifinals and the PIAA quarterfinals with a final record of 13-6.
But longtime coach Vince Sortino lost his athletic director’s position and now is the AD at Dallastown High School in Eastern Pennsylvania.
The school district turned to a former college softball coach to take over the program, and the Highlanders have not missed a beat.
Former Pitt assistant coach Gina Fuchs took over the program after a year as an assistant coach to Sortino at Baldwin.
“The transition has been pretty smooth,” Fuchs said. “There are a lot of differences from college to high school, but also a lot of similarities. My coaching philosophy and our standards are basically the same as they were when I coached college. Obviously, the level of play and also some of the rules are different. So that has been an adjustment, but how I coach is the same.”
Fuchs said she felt no pressure in taking over the reins of such a successful program.
“I don’t really feel pressure since my expectation is to continue to be a successful program and to build on the tradition that is already well established at Baldwin.”
Whether a new coach is from the outside or has been part of the program as an assistant, there is always that growth time where the coach is learning about the players and vice-versa. Some transitions are quick while other can last a half season or more.
“We had a team meeting at the beginning of the year where my staff and I told the girls what the standards and expectations are to be a part of the Baldwin softball team,” Fuchs said. “So far, I really think they are buying into that philosophy, which can be hard with a coaching change. I think we are on the same page. “
Baldwin picked up a pair of section road wins last week, beating Peters Township and Brashear by a combined score of 32-0 to improve to 4-1 in the section and 5-1 overall.
“We work hard in practice on defensive communication and fundamentals, offensively having quality at-bats, and getting ahead on the mound,” Fuchs said. “We did all of these things well this past week. I believe if we control the things we can control no matter who we play, and no matter what the scoreboard says, then we will be successful.”
Offense has been a big part of the Highlanders’ success thus far as they have scored 79 runs in six games. Fuchs likes the balance up and down the Highlanders lineup.
“We seem to feed off each other’s success and I love that. Salena Jaquay has done a great job in the leadoff spot getting on base. Addie Tagg has been awesome on the mound and at the plate. Cassie Carlson and Chyenne Shandor are also hitting the ball hard and having some great at-bats.
“I’ve also been impressed with how well our freshman and new kids have made the transition to being in a starting role. We lost five starters last year, and I think the kids who have filled those spots have done an amazing job so far.”
Baldwin isn’t the only team in Section 1 off to a good start as Bethel Park and Canon-McMillan are a combined 9-0 atop the section.
“We definitely have some tough teams in our section,” Fuchs said, “but I feel that our biggest obstacle will be us. Playing our game with a team-first mentality will be vital to our success this season.”
So while it appears the team and coach have adjusted to each other and winning ways continue in the land of the purple Highlanders, Fuchs is excited for the ride ahead that she hopes will continue through the month of May.
“I’m excited to see how this team grows and develops through the rest of this season,” she said. “I think we have the talent to again be a contender in the section if we play our game and learn how to play together. We will need our experienced players to step up and lead the talented youth we have.”
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.