Seton-La Salle softball team aiming for section 'three-peat' this season
Seton-La Salle's varsity softball team rolled to 14 consecutive victories last season, en route to a 15-2 overall record.
The Lady Rebels breezed to the Section 1-AA title with an undefeated record, and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals.
Head coach Jay Krull welcomed six starters back from last year's championship team, and only one, catcher Jess Weiss, is a senior athlete.
“We should compete to win the section,” said Krull, who is banking on having strong pitching supported by outstanding hitting again this spring.
Junior shortstop Taylor Mercurio and junior outfielder Danielle Merlina also are returning starters for the Lady Rebels, along with a trio of sophomores in pitcher Lauren Zola, and outfielders Danielle Dadig and Kaylee Boehme.
Weiss, Raelyn Fencik and Victoria Andrews are the team's only seniors, while Mercurio, Merlina and Cleona Helton are juniors.
Zola, Dadig and Boehme are joined by sophomore classmates Tomasina Arrigo, Amanda Jeziorski and Alexis Keefe.
Also, there are seven freshman prospects in the varsity program — Annie Borofski, Kelsie Klein, Olivia Matvey, Lexi Mercurio, Alyssa Miller, Katie Smith and Shelby Weigold.
“We have seven freshman with good skill sets; three are competing for starting varsity positions,” said Krull, who is in his fourth season as head coach.
The Lady Rebels, also section titlists in 2011, lost three key seniors to graduation from last year's squad.
Michelle Potenziani (first base), Marisa McAndrews (second base) and Christina Folino (third base) were four-year varsity starters and co-captains in 2012.
Seton-La Salle won the section championship last year with a 14-0 slate, ahead of Keystone Oaks (11-3) and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (10-4). Rounding out the section standings were Brentwood (7-7), Avonworth (7-7), Bishop Canevin (4-10), Carlynton (2-12) and Quaker Valley (1-13).
“We achieved the first of our goals by winning the section,” Krull said. “Undefeated was never a goal. We play one game at a time, and win one game at a time.”
Zola made an immediate impact as a freshman hurler. She finished the regular season with 140 strikeouts and a 2.00 earned run average, and tossed several no-hitters — including one in her first-ever varsity start.
Four girls wrapped up the 2012 regular season hitting .500 or better.
Weiss led the team with a .600 batting average, along with 35 RBI and six triples.
Zola battted .581 with 28 RBI, followed closely by Mercurio (.560) and Dadig (.550). Mercurio drove in 15 runs, while Dadig knocked in 10.
Other top contributors offensively included McAndrews (.484), Potenziani (.462), Folino (.447) and Fencik (.370).
Krull rotated the team's starting outfielders throughout the 2012 campaign.
“Our success has been at the team level,” he said.
Seton-La Salle was the No. 2 seed in last year's WPIAL playoffs. The Lady Rebels defeated South Fayette in the first round, before falling to Greensburg Central Catholic in the quarterfinals.
Greensburg Central Catholic finished as the WPIAL Class AA runner-up, losing to Deer Lakes in the championship game.
Krull expects Keystone Oaks, OLSH and Avonworth to be the Lady Rebels' biggest challenges in section action.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or email@example.com.