Frazier softball seeks elusive WPIAL semifinal berth
When the Frazier and Vincentian Academy softball teams met in 2010, the Royals were a team that had already forged a championship identity and they toppled the Commodores, 12-0, in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals on their way to a third straight title.
Three years later, the teams are meeting once again as they square off in a first-round game at 3 p.m. Thursday at Hempfield Area High School. But unlike their last meeting, the fourth-seeded Commodores (16-2) will come into the game as favorites rather than the underdog.
The Commodores had their season come to an end in the WPIAL quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons. For this year's seniors, there is a sense of urgency to make a deep run in the postseason.
“That's motivation for them,” Frazier coach Paul Harvey said. “I think it's finally hitting the seniors. These girls have played together for four years. I think as freshmen and sophomores they were happy to be playing. Now they realize this is it.”
Frazier has had strong teams in the past, but Harvey believes this may be the most offensively gifted team the Commodores have fielded.
“I think one through nine, it's probably my best hitting team,” Harvey said. “And that could make a difference. We can score runs. We don't get shut down too often and if you can score some runs, you'll be in the game.”
The Commodores, who tied Carmichaels for the Section 2-A title, have gotten contributions throughout the lineup. Sophomore center fielder Monica Joseph and senior shortstop Alexis Livingstone are hitting .594 and .588, respectively. Senior Andrea Lash (.456), freshmen Kelsey Holp (.444) and Alexus Eicher (.410) and sophomore Hannah Kline (.333) have also been productive at the plate. Joseph leads the Commodores with 38 hits and Livingstone has driven in a team-high 38 runs.
Frazier also has a strong pitcher in Lash, who has been a fixture on the mound since her freshman season and has been a big reason for the recent success of the program. This year, Lash has collected all of Frazier's 16 wins and has recorded 101 strikeouts.
“She has played well in all of our playoff games, but somewhere along the line, our defense has faltered,” Harvey said.
Harvey is hoping the defense plays well against a Vincentian team that may be hitting its stride. The Royals (8-5) won their final two section games to clinch a share of third place with Riverview in Section 3-A.
“They needed to win three out of their final four games to make the playoffs,” Harvey said. “So that tells me they are a good team.”
One thing the Royals lack is depth. Vincentian Academy first-year coach Joe Baczek noted his team is currently comprised of just nine players.
“It was hard to get a team together this year,” Baczek said, noting injuries have also taken a toll on his team.
Although not a deep team, Vincentian certainly has some talent. The Royals are led by junior Kim Corcoran, who is hitting .700 with 19 RBI. Corcoran has also compiled a 7-5 record with 95 strikeouts on the mound.
“She is the player you want to coach,” Baczek said. “She loves to play softball.”
Senior first baseman Danielle Melvin and sophomore catcher Kelsey Hunter are hitting .595 and .587, respectively. Melvin leads the team with 44 RBI.
According to Baczek, everybody will have to contribute in order to knock off the Commodores.
“Frazier comes from a tough section and they have done very well,” Baczek said. “One through nine, they've got talent. We can't make mistakes.”