Trib HSSN’s 2023 Softball Player and Coach of the Year for each classification

Saturday, June 24, 2023 | 11:58 AM

This spring, those sitting at head of the softball class had a clear view of so many individual and team standout performances.

The season included a WPIAL-record winning streak, repeat district championships in Class 3A, 2A and A while the three highest classifications saw the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seeds win gold. Plus, there were plenty of silver linings as four district teams played in the state championship games only to return home with runner-up finishes.

Trib HSSN salutes all the players and coaches for their great work on the softball diamond in 2023, however these players and coaches receive a special gold star on the forehead, a tip of the cap and a seat up front as they are at the head of the class.

Class 6A

Player of the year: Lexi Hames, Seneca Valley

The sophomore pitcher proved her late surge of success as a freshman in 2022 was no fluke. In 122 innings pitched, she faced 445 batters and struck out a stunning 269 batters. Hames was 17-2 with a 0.45 ERA, a 0.48 WHIP and an opponent’s batting average of .066. She batted .343 and had just 28 official at-bats in 66 plate appearances with a .738 on-base percentage and 36 walks (most intentional) with five home runs and 14 RBIs.

Coach of the year: Tina Madison, Hempfield

When Hempfield lost to Seneca Valley on the final day of the regular season to finish second in the standings and was seeded second in the 6A bracket behind the defending champion Raiders, the spotlight seems to come off the Spartans. That proved to be a big mistake as Tina Madison’s squad beat rival Norwin in the semifinals, then won the rubber game of their three games with Seneca Valley, 2-1, to win the program’s eighth title, tied for the second most in the WPIAL. The Spartans won three PIAA playoff games before falling to undefeated North Penn in the 6A state final, 1-0.

Class 5A

Player of the year: Bethany Rodman, Shaler

Despite coming away without gold, this senior led Shaler with her arm, glove and bat in a memorable season. Shaler lost to Trinity in the WPIAL semifinals and fell to Northern York in the PIAA 5A state title game, both by one run in extra innings. Bethany Rodman was the driving force in a 22-2 season. She batted .591 with a .644 on-base percentage and a 1.25 slugging percentage with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs. She was 14-0 in the pitchers circle before moving to first base and designated hitter to allow freshman Bria Bosiljevac to pitch. Rodman will play college ball at Muskingum.

Coach of the year: Shawn Gray, Trinity

Trinity had an outstanding regular season, finishing 15-2 and easily winning Section 4-5A by three games. However, with defending champion Armstrong as the No. 1 seed and undefeated Shaler at No. 2, the Hillers were flying under the radar heading into the district playoffs. Shawn Green’s team then crushed Penn-Trafford and Latrobe before edging Shaler, 5-4, in nine innings to earn a spot in the finals. Trinity outslugged Armstrong, 11-7, to win its first softball title. The Hillers finished the season 20-3 after falling to the Titans in a WPIAL semifinals rematch, 5-1 in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Class 4A

Player of the year: Kaitlin Molitoris, Montour

The senior pitcher concluded a standout career by leading Montour to both the WPIAL and PIAA 4A championship game. In both title games, Belle Vernon in the district and Blue Mountain in the states, the Spartans lost by one run. Kaitlin Molitoris, who pitched in every inning of every game the past two years for the Spartans, finished the season with a record of 18-5 record and 2.09 ERA with 201 strikeouts and an opponent’s batting average against of 1.80. She also batted .305 with 16 RBIs. She will be playing college ball at Alderson Broaddus.

Coach of the year: Tom Rodriguez, Belle Vernon

On the five-year anniversary of their fourth and most recent WPIAL softball championship, Belle Vernon finished in second place behind Elizabeth Forward in Section 2-4A, having lost to the Warriors twice in the regular season. Following a first-round bye, Tom Rodriguez’s team edged West Mifflin to set up a third meeting with EF in the semifinals. The Leopards played home run derby and cruised to a convincing win, 10-1. They then made a golden defensive play at the plate for the final out in the title game win over Montour, 8-7. The Leopards’ season ended with a PIAA quarterfinals loss to Elizabeth Forward, 4-3.

Class 3A

Player of the year: Alivia Lantzy, Avonworth

The junior pitcher came into her own not only as a pitcher, but also as a dangerous hitter in helping Avonworth continue its dominance of WPIAL Class 3A softball. She was 21-2 in the circle with 204 strikeouts in 134 innings and a 1.21 ERA. For the season, Lantzy had a .485 batting average, a .586 on-base percentage and a .897 slugging percentage with 33 hits, eight doubles, a triple, six home runs, 34 runs scored and 32 RBIs.

Coach of the year: Jenna Muncie, Avonworth

In the last four seasons, the Avonworth softball team has booked three WPIAL championship celebrations, winning district gold in 2019, 2022 and repeating as 3A district winners in 2023. Following their victory over Southmoreland in the WPIAL title game, Jenna Muncie’s ‘Lopes began their defense of last year’s PIAA championship with a record of 21-1. The Antelopes cruised past Fort LeBoeuf in Round 1 before the season ended suddenly in the quarterfinals with a loss to Juniata, 6-1. There is still plenty of victories to be had next year with what will then be a talented senior group.

Class 2A

Player of the year: Addy Frye, Neshannock

As the ace of the Neshannock pitching staff, Addy Frye has led the way to a record-setting district winning streak in the first two years of her already golden high school career. Frye finished her sophomore season with a record of 17-1 and an ERA of 0.43. She also had 137 strikeouts in 98 innings. At the plate, Frye batted .478 with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 31 RBIs as the Lancers won WPIAL gold again before losing in the PIAA semifinals.

Coach of the year: Jackie Lash, Neshannock

All good things must come to an end. It will be tough for any team to duplicate the back-to-back seasons Neshannock has had. Last year, the Lancers were perfect, finishing 26-0 with both WPIAL and PIAA crowns earned. It was more of the same this spring as Jackie Lash’s team continued its dominance and repeated as WPIAL champs with an undefeated record, before falling to eventual champion Everett in the PIAA 2A semifinals, 9-6, ending the longest softball winning streak in WPIAL history at 48 in a row.

Class A

Player of the year: Mia Preuhs, Union

The sophomore pitcher followed up a fabulous freshman season with another strong season in the circle and at the plate for the now back-to-back WPIAL champion Scotties. Preuhs finished with a 13-4 record and 151 strikeouts for Union, while batting .500 (30 for 60) with 10 home runs, 18 extra base hits and 33 RBIs in helping the Scotties win district gold and state silver. She had 17 strikeouts in the state quarterfinals win over West Branch, 5-2.

Coach of the year: Dave Briggs, Carmichaels

Last year, Carmichaels took third place in Section 3-2A and lost in the first round of the WPIAL 2A playoffs, finishing with a record of 10-6. This spring, the Mighty Mikes lived up to their nickname as they returned to Class A. Dave Briggs’ team was undefeated in the regular season and reached the WPIAL Class A championship game, where it lost to Union in a thriller, 10-8. Carmichaels finished 19-2 overall after falling to Glendale in the PIAA quarterfinals, 5-4 in eight innings.

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