Sewickley Academy's Pryor packing power for Panthers
Mackenzie Pryor has been working on improving her presence at the plate during the early-season games for the Sewickley Academy softball team.
The results were on display as she connected on a home run in the top of the fourth inning of the Panthers' 12-0 rout of Northgate last week.
“I couldn't tell it was a home run until I was rounding first base,” Pryor said. “It was only the second one I have hit. The last one was when I was a freshman.”
The hit was exactly what Panthers coach Win Palmer wants to see from Pryor. While some hitters are expected to provide consistency or plate discipline, the Sewickley Academy coach described Pryor as the team's power hitter.
“We're not too concerned if she strikes out,” Palmer said. “We want her to drive the ball.”
Pryor has had a slow start at the plate, only connecting on 3 of 14 attempts with two RBI and five walks. But Palmer isn't concerned about his power hitter. She had a similar start last season and finished with a .409 batting average with 16 RBI.
“Last year she started slow and then turned it on,” Palmer said. “We expect her to get back to that level.”
In addition to being a force at the plate, Pryor is a three-year starter for the Panthers at first base. She was an all-Section 3-A selection last season and her experience at the position is a much welcomed presence on an extremely young team.
“She is very smart,” Palmer said. “She is tough and fearless. She goes for the ball in front of the screen (in foul territory). Teammates know if the throw is in her vicinity she will go after it.”
While she may be listed as a junior, she is filling in the role of a senior leader on the team. The Panthers have only two seniors and no other juniors outside of Pryor on the roster so her experience is invaluable on the youthful squad that includes eight sophomores and six freshmen.
“We have two great senior captains in Camdin Bartholomew and Lauren Gedeon,” Pryor said. “I am learning a lot from them on how to be a captain. Hopefully, next year I can be one.”
And while it may be alarming that she will be the lone senior next season, Palmer said he is working sophomores into leadership roles in preparation of the 2014 season.
“We won't have to worry about it next season because the then-juniors will be ready to be leaders,” Palmer said. “I had a meeting with the team captains recently and we included (Pryor) because she is like an assistant captain at this point.”
Both Pryor and Palmer were adamant that the team's 2-4 start to the season isn't a proper representation of the Panthers. With the underclassmen continuing their progression, the team is expecting to surprise some teams the second time through the section.
“Our team should focus on key games,” Pryor said. “We lost a few games we probably shouldn't have. We want to win those games the second time around. We need to keep making plays and keeping doing what has been working.”