Westmoreland softball notes: Hempfield happy to have Sowers back on field

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 5:07 PM

Hempfield is glad to have No. 22 back in the circle — and in the batter’s box.

Senior Callie Sowers has returned from a broken thumb that sidelined her for the first five games of the season.

“I’m so glad to be back,” Sowers said. “It was tough only getting to watch the start of the season, but I really think it turned me into a stronger player.”

Her impact was felt immediately last Tuesday when she made her season debut at Butler. She came on in relief of freshman Hannah Uhirnek, who has been effective for the Spartans in a baptism-by-fire rookie season, and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings. Sowers also belted a home run as Hempfield won 13-1.

The five-time defending WPIAL champions in the league’s largest classification dropped the next game, however, with Sowers again out.

Talk about a Catch 22.

She was not available for an undisclosed reason against North Allegheny as the Spartans (5-3) were clubbed 15-3 in five innings in what was believed to be their first mercy-rule loss at Robert Kalp Field.

Sowers allowed four hits in the next game, a 1-0 win over Seneca Valley.

Then, Hempfield had to pause activities until Thursday after the school shut down over covid contact tracing.

“She is a difference-maker,” senior catcher Emma Hoffner said of Sowers. “I love pitching with Callie. It’s been a long time since we played together, and I am really excited. When she got hurt, we all felt it.”

Sowers and Hoffner, an Ohio recruit, were a dominant battery in 2019 and are looking to re-establish chemistry after missing last season.

Sowers, a Bloomsburg commit, was 18-6 with a 2.29 ERA and 121 strikeouts as a sophomore as she attempted to become the next in a long line of power pitchers to play for Kalp.

“I think we’re physically and mentally better with her,” Kalp said. “Callie is arguably one of the best pitchers in the WPIAL. She’ll give us a boost.”

Sowers took a pitch inside against Ligonier Valley in a scrimmage when she broke the thumb on her throwing hand.

“It was heartbreaking when I found out I was not able to participate for awhile,” she said. “Our team is very young, and I had to be their cheerleader and push them to do their best both in practices and games. Physically, the time I was off I still worked out with weights and altered my pitching workouts to what I could do with my thumb to maintain my strength.”

Tallman doing well

An X-ray Tuesday evening did not show a fracture to Latrobe senior Jordan Tallman’s right wrist, and the standout pitcher could be back sooner than first expected.

Tallman took a line drive to the wrist on her throwing hand Tuesday against Penn-Trafford and left the game to go to a local hospital. She said she appears to have a bruised nerve or nerves, which caused her to lose feeling in her hand.

“I am going to ice it and wait for it to return to normal,” said Tallman, a Georgetown commit. “It depends on how long it takes to get the sensitivity back in my hand.”

Tallman struck out 11 in the 4-2 loss to No. 1 Penn-Trafford. She also was hit by a pitch in the previous inning.

She took the onslaught in stride.

“I told a coach who came out to check on me when I was laying there crying that they’re working their way up my arm,” Tallman said.

FR playing well

After it was roughed up by Hempfield, Franklin Regional bounced back with four straight wins to move into the thick of the Section 1-5A race. The Panthers blanked Plum, 5-0, and Penn Hills, 22-0, before edging past Indiana, 7-6, and scoring a 6-4 win over neighboring Gateway.

100 for Dutch

Yough coach Dutch Harvey decided to come back to lead the Cougars after a coaching change in 2019. It led him to a milestone.

Harvey picked up the 100th win of his tenure as Yough beat Uniontown, 11-1, on April 14.

In his seventh season leading the Cougars, Harvey was 100-32 heading into Wednesday.

Makeup dates

A couple of notable section games were postponed Tuesday because of covid-related closures at the hosting schools.

So, Norwin at Hempfield, a key Section 1-6A game, will be at 4 p.m. Friday at Hempfield’s Robert Kalp Field.

The Section 3-3A showdown between Mt. Pleasant at Southmoreland, meanwhile, does not yet have a makeup date. Southmoreland is ranked No. 1, and Mt. Pleasant is No. 3 after falling from the top spot after a loss to Waynesburg.

Southmoreland can return from its quarantine Monday.

New rankings

With three straight wins — over Butler, North Allegheny and Pine-Richland — Norwin surged into the No. 2 spot in the TribLive HSSN Class 6A rankings. Southmoreland went from No. 2 to No. 1 in Class 3A.

Streak ends

Mt. Pleasant had a 21-game home winning streak halted Saturday when Waynesburg came to town and slipped past the Vikings, 11-10.

The last time Mt. Pleasant lost on its home field was April 24, 2017, against Indiana.

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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