Westmoreland H.S. athletes of the week: GCC’s Emma Henry, Hempfield’s Peyton Murray

Saturday, May 28, 2022 | 5:50 PM

Emma Henry

School: Greensburg Central Catholic

Sport: Softball

Year: Junior

Claim to fame: Henry helped lead the Centurions to a 9-6 victory over Springdale in the WPIAL Class A third-place game to give GCC a PIAA playoff spot for the first time since 2012. She doubled, tripled and drove in two runs, and she also was the winning pitcher.

“She’s our bulldog,” GCC coach Mike Gaffney said.

Third-seeded GCC reached the WPIAL semifinals but lost to No. 2 Union, 9-2.

Henry is batting .559 with 25 RBIs and 22 runs scored, and she is 7-6 in the circle with a 3.05 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 45 walks.

What motivated your team to win the WPIAL third-place game?

We had a tough loss last year, and we didn’t get the result we were hoping for in our semifinal game last week, so we all really wanted to win this one. We also all wanted to prove that we are a good team after years of being looked over.

You hit a triple and scored on an error in the last game. It was like an inside-the-park home run. Was that one of the more exciting hits you have had this season?

It definitely wasn’t the prettiest, but I was glad we got to start scoring and how everyone’s bats really woke up that inning and how we really set the tone.

Do you like hitting or pitching better?

I honestly love both. Both hitting and pitching can be challenging at times, but when you get through the tough times, they can really pay off.

Are you getting any college attention. What is your dream school?

Yes, there are a few schools interested, but I don’t think anything will really be final until the summer or fall. I would really love to go anywhere where I can continue playing the game.

GCC hasn’t made the state playoffs in a decade. Why was this the team to return to the PIAA postseason?

I think this team is really special because we are really close to each other. We all really pick each other up, and our attitude and want-to-win has really changed compared to previous seasons. We all really want to go far.

How do you feel you’ve grown as a leader?

I don’t know if I would consider myself a leader, but I definitely work on bettering myself so I can bring the best for my teammates and the people around me.

Where are you from originally and what brought you to GCC?

I originally went to Jeannette and moved to GCC in middle school. I moved to GCC for better opportunities for my future/college.

Why do you wear No. 17?

It was my dad’s number.

Have you ever met a famous person?

Antonio Brown.

Who is your favorite Twitter follow?

I don’t really go on Twitter a lot, but when I do I like to look at coaches and their different perspectives on what mechanics “should be.”

Do sports run in your family?

My dad played football at Seneca Valley, and my youngest sister is really into softball as well. She currently goes to Jeannette.

Any unique talents or hobbies?

I am fluent in sign language.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I will definitely be a softball coach in some aspect. Maybe for an actual team or lessons.

Favorite home-cooked meal?

Stuffed pepper soup passed down from my mom’s family.

Favorite movie or TV show?

“The Vampire Diaries.”

Go-to drink at Starbucks?

Venti coffee frappuccino with heavy cream, sugar free vanilla, and double-blended. Trust me on this one.

Go-to MTO order at Sheetz?

Chicken sandwich.

Who is the most inspirational person in your life?

There are a lot of very inspirational people in my life, so this is a hard question to answer, but my grandma is definitely one of them because of how kind she is to everyone.

Sport you’re secretly good at?

Basketball. I grew up playing with friends.

Coach Mike Gaffney’s best advice is _____?

Keep rolling.

Peyton Murray

School: Hempfield

Sport: Track and field

Year: Sophomore

Claim to fame: Murray placed third in the PIAA Class 3A discus with a throw of 161-8. He was the WPIAL champion in the event May 18. A hip injury kept Murray from competing early in the season. He had to take five weeks off and was advised that he might miss the season. But he kept his faith and fought through the injury to make it to states.

Talk about the injury? I had a hip flexor and they originally told me I was going to miss the season and now I’m here.

What did you do to get yourself back to competing? They gave me a shot, and I was off for five weeks. After that, I had a lot of practice and dedication and hard work.

When did you feel you were back in the groove, or are you not all the way back? I’m not sure I’m all the way back. I’ve had better practices lately. Apparently hit 170 in warm-ups, so I’m getting close. I thought I’d be at 175 this season. I need more lifting because that’s one thing I couldn’t do.

Being a sophomore, does that give you more motivation next season? Everyone on the podium was a senior except maybe one. There is always someone who comes out of nowhere who can throw 170. I feel I’ll be there next year.

Talk about your coach, who happens to be your dad (Dave)? I think he’s one of the best coaches in the state, if not the best. He’s my dad, and we spend a lot of time together. I like him.

How does your dad motivate all the throwers? He gets up for every throw. He motivates me a lot. He built a pit in our backyard during covid. I definitely wouldn’t be here (without him).

Was there a time when you were growing up that you weren’t interested in throwing? Right before I started, I didn’t like it. As soon as you do anything good, it’s fun. I started in seventh grade.

Who was your biggest influence? My dad and my brother Alex are my biggest influences. They help me a lot.

What’s the goal for next year? Win it for sure and making it in the shot put and try to get on the podium in both. I’m hoping to hit 180 next year.

Are there any hobbies you do or something your friends would be surprised you do? Not really. I like lifting a lot. That’s what I’ll be doing all summer and get really big. The guy who took second was huge, and he just got started.

If your mom would get you something to eat or make you something special, what would it be? She can buy me Chick-fil-A. I love Chick-fil-A. But she makes good meals.

If there was one person you’d like to have lunch with, who would it be? Ryan Crouser. He’s definitely an inspiration to me. Greatest shot putter in the world.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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