Seniors lead the way for West Allegheny softball
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Nobody has ever questioned Ashley Gerhart's ability to hit.
Whether the West Allegheny softball team's slugging shortstop could talk — and lead — now that was a different story.
Quiet and introverted the past three years, Gerhart has busted out of her shell this spring with the same sort of authority that she would turn on an inside fastball. That vocal approach — encouraging teammates, shouting out defenses and what-would-happen-if scenarios — has been one of the primary reasons the Indians are 8-1 overall and 4-1 in Section 2-AAA heading into tonight's game at second-place Montour.
“When you're younger, you're scared to step up, so I was always a little bit quiet,” Gerhart said. “But now that I'm a senior, I feel like people will actually listen to me.”
Since hitting .469 to lead the Indians to their first PIAA Class AAA state tournament appearance as a freshman, Gerhart has been consistently spectacular for West Allegheny, earning all-section honors each of the past three seasons. The Robert Morris recruit is hitting .588 this spring, with three home runs, seven doubles, 14 RBI and 17 runs — all marks that lead the team.
“She's an easy kid to like,” coach Mindi McFate said. “She's the most talented player I've ever coached, and she has zero ego. If I wanted her to bunt every time, she would. If I wanted her to bat ninth, she would. I think the kids recognize her unselfishness and recognize that she wants to do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
One of six seniors in the lineup, Gerhart anchors an infield that includes first baseman Amanda Murray, second baseman Amanda Hurey and third baseman Christina Alati. Center fielder Marissa Dytka and right fielder Tiffany Atkins provide experience in the outfield.
“Having a lot of seniors in the lineup helps because we know it's our last year playing together, and for some of us it's our last of softball,” Gerhart said. “We want to make it the best year possible.”
Perhaps Gerhart and Co. want to make it as interesting as possible, too. West Allegheny has had to come from behind in four of its nine games, winning three. In the one the Indians didn't win, they trailed Montour, 4-0, scored five runs, then surrendered five unanswered for a 9-5 loss. Games against New Castle, Trinity and McGuffey featured dramatic comebacks.
“We never give up,” Dytka said. “As long as it's not over, there's still one more inning, right?”
The experience on this year's team has not only provided a steadying hand, but the Indians also are raking: Five players have home runs — the team has 10 — and West Allegheny is hitting .385.
Combine that with pitcher Brianna Lach, who's not only hitting .500 but has a 2.22 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 63 innings, and you can't blame Gerhart for having so much to say.
“Ashley has always been a physical leader, but in terms of being vocal, she would take a back seat to whoever the captains or the seniors were that year,” McFate said. “She was never one to step up and say anything, where this year, she's more vocal, which I think has made a big difference for everyone.”
Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- McIntyre students hope Buddy Bench is beneficial to all
- Central Catholic rowers excel at Allegheny Boat Race
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Intruder in Carrick makes off with cash, weapon
- Annual Holiday Parade to celebrate all things Pittsburgh
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says
- 1 dead, 1 injured after crash in North Point Breeze
- Rookie linebacker Chickillo adjusting to role with Steelers