Trib HSSN Softball Team of the Week for June 11, 2023

Sunday, June 11, 2023 | 4:12 PM

The Shaler softball team has been spending most of this spring savoring perfection.

The Titans’ only loss didn’t come until the WPIAL semifinals against Trinity.

Did six-year coach Tom Source see this kind of success coming?

“We do a fall program, and we knew we had some good kids coming up because that’s where we get to meet them,” he said. “We never anticipated we would be undefeated for an extent with only two returning starters. We didn’t know how it was going to mix. It worked out really well for us.”

Shaler has leaned heavily in the postseason on a freshman pitcher, Bria Bosiljevac, and she has answered the call.

However, the move in the circle from senior Bethany Rodman to the youngster Bosiljevac was not an easy one.

“I had heard of how good (Bosiljevac) was from the coaching staff down below,” Source said. “The thing we were trying to deal with was we had a very good senior pitcher. It isn’t about having great players. It’s about having a great team mix. (Rodman) started a majority of the games, and we brought Bria in as a closer, keeping both kids active.

“(Rodman) was receptive of it. She’s one of the leading hitters in the WPIAL, and this gave her a chance to concentrate on her hitting, which I think helped her out.”

Source spoke highly of Rodman as a great leader on a team that has a lot of young talent.

“(Rodman) has been the resurgence of this program the last three years since covid. She really has,” he said. “It’s difficult when you make a decision to put in one pitcher over the other. We feel it gives us the best chance to win right now, but she has been a big part of this program to get it back to where we need it to be.”

Shaler played its first PIAA softball playoff game since 2015 last week with an opening-round victory over District 6 champion Central Mountain.

Sophomore Emily Spears delivered a two-run homer, and Bosiljevac struck out 17 in the Titans’ 2-1 win over the Wildcats.

“That’s one of those things that have been working out. When we’ve struggled to knock some runs in from the top of the lineup, somebody’s picking up the slack,” Source said. “I don’t know that we had more than four or five hits, but all we needed was those two runs.”

That win sent Shaler into the state quarterfinals and to a rematch with WPIAL champion Trinity, the only team that beat the Titans this season, a 5-4 triumph for the Hillers in nine innings in the district semifinals.

Revenge began to come for Shaler four batters into the game, when, with runners at second and third and one out, Rodman crushed a three-run homer over the center-field fence at Gateway.

“She’s not getting a lot to hit. They’re pitching around her quite a bit,” Source said. “I’m surprised they didn’t walk her in the first inning, to say the least. They took the chance, and it worked out well for us because she hit a bomb.”

Maja Sumonovic homered in the second inning for the Titans, and Ella Nash homered in the third inning as Shaler went up 5-0.

“You never have enough runs is the way I look at it,” Source said. “We were trying to get at least one more because you never know. These teams can hit the ball. Bria kept us going. She’s a little fireball in there. She’s pretty intense for a ninth grader.”

Bosiljevac ended up allowing one run on two hits with 10 strikeouts in the 5-1 win.

Shaler (21-1) will now play Armstrong (21-2) in a much-anticipated matchup between the two top seeds in the District 7 playoffs. This is the third year in a row the River Hawks are playing in the state semifinals.

“They’ve been there for three years,” Source said. “They’ve been where I want to get. I have a lot of respect for them. We know it’s going to be a battle. They hit the ball, and it will be a good matchup from our pitcher to their hitters.”

2023 Trib HSSN Softball Teams of the Week

Week 9 – Hempfield Spartans

Week 8 – Belle Vernon Leopards

Week 7 – South Fayette Lions

Week 6 – Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chargers

Week 5 – West Mifflin Titans

Week 4 – Neshannock Lancers

Week 3 – Trinity Hillers

Week 2 – Charleroi Cougars

Week 1 – Carmichaels Mighty Mikes


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