Valley softball team wants to build on playoff berth

Thursday, March 24, 2022 | 6:30 PM

Without a senior on the roster, Valley softball managed to break into the playoffs last year for the first time since 2012.

The Vikings were 5-9 overall and 5-5 in Section 1-3A. They fell 7-0 to South Allegheny in the first round of the playoffs.

Getting to the postseason with such a young group has veteran coach Carol Perroz optimistic about this season.

“The girls get along so well, which is a bonus, because a tight-knit group always works harder than one with some animosity within the team,” Perroz said. “Having them back is nice, and we’re going to give it a battle. Making the playoffs was big for us.”

Although no one graduated, two of the Vikings’ starters from 2021, Jordan Kirkwood (catcher) and Brinley Hegedus (first base) did not come out for the team.

Several players are in the mix to fill both positions.

“We have some battles for those positions, but they are good, friendly competitions, so that’s nice,” Perroz said.

The rest of the lineup returns, and it will be anchored by junior pitcher Morgan Dunkel.

Dunkel started every game in the circle for Valley last season.

“She would’ve been our starting pitcher as a freshman had covid not wiped that season out,” Perroz said. “Good lord willing, we don’t have any injuries, I plan on starting her every game this season as well. She’s a great kid that’s a hard worker. She does everything you ask of her and more. She’s a great person to have in our circle.”

Leah Taliani, who was a captain as a sophomore last year, Ryleigh Kasten, and Haley Demharter will be key to the lineup. Taliani played second base last year, and Kasten was the shortstop.

Tori Johnson is a good defensive center fielder whom Perroz said has the speed to cover plenty of ground in the outfield.

Emily Lewandowski is out for the team for the first time. She played softball in youth leagues but ran track the last few years before deciding to come out for the team for her senior year.

Madison Martin, a sophomore, and freshman Gabby Campana-Chambers also are looking to break into the lineup.

Valley put up more than 10 runs three times last season and averaged 7.6 runs in section play.

“You never like to lose two players from the lineup like we did, but I do like how the rest of the team has rallied around each other,” Perroz said. “They’ve been better with each scrimmage, and they work hard. I like what I have around me right now, and we’re going to battle with them.”

The Vikings are in Section 1 again with Deer Lakes, Derry, North Catholic, East Allegheny and Shady Side Academy. North Catholic is the defending section champion.

“I expect to have a nice section,” Perroz said. “Those teams come to battle every time. I like our team, too. We’re going to fight to the end, as well. We’re going to bring our bats and gloves and see where the chips fall.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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