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Greensburg Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Derry's Andy Panizzi, Hempfield's Hope Pehrson

| Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Derry volleyball player Andy Panizzi.
Hempfield softball player Hope Pehrson

Andy Panizzi

School: Derry

Year: Senior

Sport: Volleyball

Claim to fame: Panizzi, a setter, had 33 assists for Derry in a 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) loss to Ambridge in the WPIAL Class AA championship game Thursday. Derry lost to the Bridgers in the title game for the second straight year after defeating Keystone Oaks and OLSH, 3-0, in the earlier rounds.

“I felt I did all right in the championship game,” Panizzi said. “After the loss, I was devastated to lose back-to-back years, especially in the WPIAL championship.”

What are your college plans?

I'm going to Penn State Altoona next year to study architectural engineering and to play volleyball. My uncle is an engineer and I took a class in high school, so I decided to take a shot at it.

Does this second loss give your team more motivation in the state playoffs?

It definitely motivates us. If we get to the semifinals, we will most likely face them again. But, we also know that in the state playoffs when you lose you're out of the tournament, which gives us even more motivation.

What will you work on during the offseason to get ready for the college level?

Our school offers open gyms during the summer so I'm going to get in there and try to keep my game polished. I will also hit the weight room to increase my vertical.

If you had the chance to meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

LeBron James. He's been my idol since I was 12 years old. I also play basketball, and it has always been fun to follow him.

Who would win a one-on-one game, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant?

LeBron. I hate Kobe Bryant just because all my friends love Kobe. I like to watch LeBron beat Kobe.

Hope Pehrson

School: Hempfield

Year: Senior

Sport: Softball

Claim to fame: Pehrson (15-5, 1.66 ERA), a Seton Hill recruit, allowed three hits in a 4-1 win over Shaler in the quarterfinals on May 20. She has struck out 94 and walked 15 in 130 innings, while batting .321 with 10 RBI. The Spartans (17-6) were unable to advance to the WPIAL Class AAAA championship after losing to Canon-McMillan, 5-0, and failing to get a base runner Thursday.

“I did give it my all for the Canon-Mac game,” Pehrson said. “The other games, I thought I was on. It was easy to pitch in those games because I knew if I pitched where they had to be pitched, my team would be able to back me up no matter what.”

What happened against Canon-McMillan?

We just swung at bad pitches. We fielded great as usual. We, including myself, were just bad at the plate. It's hard playing in those games where you don't get a hit. It just stinks.

How was the switch from just pitching to now pitching and batting?

It was easy. I really like to hit because I can use it as a stress reliever if I don't pitch well. I can make it up when I get to the plate with a hit. I enjoy it and it's less stressful than pitching. I thought it was out of pity at first but (coach Bob Kalp) decided to keep me in the lineup.

What made you decide to commit to Seton Hill?

I went with Seton Hill because the team was awesome when I stayed overnight with the team. They seem fun and it wasn't just about softball. No one was mean and it seemed like they all hung out together as a team. The pitching coach still pitches professionally. I hope we will have a strong team next year. I will major in exercise science, which is a new program there. I feel like a guinea pig. I will then go into the physician assistant program.

What do you want to be remembered for at Hempfield?

I want to be remembered as a pitcher and as a nice pitcher who cares about her team and not one of those pitchers who only cared about herself.

When you are pitching, is there a moment you know you're on your game?

I don't think so. I know I could have a good game and then I can give up a home run in the last inning. I'm sure I have had awesome games. I just think you need to take it pitch by pitch and base it off practice and repetition. I know when I hit my spots it can be a good game, but I can miss it that one time and it can be gone.

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