Westmoreland softball notebook: Perennial power Hempfield off to strong start

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 | 10:53 PM

Hempfield plans to play deep into the WPIAL and PIAA 6A postseason. Those are the standards set every year by the perennial power.

An impressive opener drove that point home.

The Lady Spartans (2-0) downed defending WPIAL 5A champion and PIAA runner-up Armstrong, 6-3.

Pitcher Riley Miller, who was injured in the playoffs last year, pitched a complete game, while Kylie Stevenson drove in two runs, Maggie Howard and Lauren Howard had two runs apiece, and Peyton Heisler doubled.

Armstrong, known last year for its home run power and lineup, did not have an extra-base hit.

Hempfield followed with an 8-0 win over big-swinging Franklin Regional on Wednesday, which could give the Spartans momentum heading into Monday’s 6A section opener at North Allegheny.

Helping their cause

A few local pitchers showed their duality during the opening week of the season.

Sophia Smithnosky pitched and hit the 3A Lady Vikings to an 8-2 win over Penn-Trafford, a PIAA 5A semifinalist last year.

She went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs and also earned the win.

Joey Hurst struck out 10 and added two hits for Monessen in a 10-2 win over Washington.

Kayla Williams not only struck out 13 in Wednesday’s 9-1 win over Mt. Pleasant, but she hit two homers and doubled to produce four RBIs.

Belle Vernon’s Olivia Kolowitz, a St. Francis (Pa.) commit, had two hits and struck out 10 as the Leopards rallied past Waynesburg, 4-3.

And how about Greensburg Salem freshman Alle Scarpa? She not only struck out 10 in her varsity debut but launched a three-run homer.

Mighty Leps

Belle Vernon could be one of the most explosive offensive teams in the WPIAL.

Look at what the Leopards did in their opener. Lexi Daniels triple, homered and drove in five, Maren Metikosh had three hits, Gracie Sokol and Olivia Kolowitz homered and Katie Sokol had two doubles in a 17-6 win over Southmoreland.

Cycle of life

Latrobe senior Josie Straigis opened the season with a bang, hitting for the cycle in a 9-8 win over Norwin in eight innings.

Straigis, a Bloomsburg commit, went 4 for 4, including the game-winning home run.

Latrobe moved to 2-0 with a 10-3 win over Pine-Richland as Hayden Kraynick went 3 for 4 with two homers and seven RBIs.

Quick turnaround

Norwin junior shortstop Bailey Snowberger didn’t ask for any recovery time in between seasons. In fact, it had been about 14 hours since she played point guard for the Lady Knights’ basketball team in a PIAA 6A semifinal in Altoona when she led off the batting order Tuesday against Mt. Pleasant.

The Holy Cross commit walked twice and scored two runs in an 8-3 win.

New coaches

Norwin coach Brian Mesich added familiar names to his coaching staff, which already included his daughter, Breanna Mesich-Yoest.

Former Knights’ baseball standout Tommy Quealy and his father, Tom, who used to be a baseball assistant at Norwin, will help.

“We’re converting the Quealys from baseball to softball,” Mesich said.

Who’s ranked?

The Trib Live HSSN preseason rankings came out in recent weeks, and a few local teams are among the top five in their classification.

In 6A, Hempfield is No. 3, while Penn-Trafford begins the year at No. 2 in 5A.

Belle Vernon is No. 4 in 4A, with Burrell at No. 2, Yough No. 3, and Southmoreland No. 5 in Class 3A.

Greensburg Central Catholic is No. 4 in 2A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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