Undefeated softball team highlights super spring at Shaler

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Sunday, May 21, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Tom Sorce’s five-year plan is coming to fruition.

The Shaler softball coach wanted to rebuild the program by starting from the youth program up. The Titans asked several former collegiate players to come and work with the middle school program.

Not everyone was able to say yes — six or eight people declined due to time commitments and other factors — but Sorce was able to convince Olivia Sorce, Jenna Conrad and Lauren Miller to come on board.

“The plan was to develop kids at the middle school level,” Sorce said. “We wanted to do some clinics, and we are reaping the benefits of that.”

Having long-term coaches in place has brought rewards to Shaler’s spring athletic teams as a whole. The Titans’ boys volleyball and baseball teams, led by longtime coaches Paul Stadelman and Brian Junker, were awarded No. 1 seeds in the WPIAL playoffs.

Sorce, who took over for Skip Palmer in 2018, helped guide Shaler to the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL playoffs this season. The boys lacrosse and boys tennis teams also qualified for the playoffs.

“It’s nice to see,” Sorce said. “I think it goes a long way to see the support we have from our athletic director (Clinton Rauscher). He gives us what we need to succeed, whether it is practice or field time.”

The Titans, who improved to 17-0 when they beat Bethel Park in the first round of the playoffs, setting up a quarterfinal matchup with Franklin Regional, have set a high standard.

“There is a certain way we do things and expect things,” Sorce said. “We try to put things in place that are going to help us later. We don’t have kids penciled in as shortstop or third baseman. We flip kids around a lot. We put kids in the best position to help us win, which means moving kids around.”

Since Sorce has taken over, the Titans have compiled a 61-27 record. Sorce knew Shaler, led by dominant pitcher Bethany Rodman, would have a chance to make a strong run in the postseason this year.

Finding more success in the playoffs is the last puzzle left to solve for Shaler’s spring teams. The softball team won its last WPIAL crown in 2014.

Sorce knows the path back will be tough, but Shaler’s been laying the foundation over the past few years. The Titans will have to win a rematch with a tough Franklin Regional team, which Shaler beat 6-3 in the regular season, just to reach the semifinals.

“(Class 5A) is a meatgrinder. We played a 7-10 team, Bethel Park, and they played us tough,” Sorce said. “It’s hard to play teams twice. We had success the first time, but teams get better.”

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