Hempfield headed to semifinals after topping Shaler
Just another day at the office for the Hempfield softball team.
“It was a typical ballgame for us,” coach Bob Kalp said Monday after the Spartans eliminated Shaler from the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs with a 4-1 victory in the quarterfinals at Plum.
“We don't, day-in and day-out, have a superstar on this team,” he said. “We've got a lot of people who can contribute, and that has made us successful. Up and down the lineup, we get production.”
Hempfield's Hope Pehrson pitched a three-hitter and the fourth-seeded Spartans (17-5) scored three runs with two outs in the second inning to take control and beat fifth-seeded Shaler (13-6) to advance to Wednesday's semifinals against top-seeded Canon-McMillan.
Taylor Bartlow's solo home run in the fourth gave Hempfield a 4-0 lead against Shaler freshman Brianna Dodson.
Run-scoring singles by Maddy Knizner and Kelsie Hendrick and a Shaler throwing error allowed Knizner to score and put Hempfield in front, 3-0, in the second.
Hempfield registered eight hits to back Pehrson on the mound, where she finished with three strikeouts and one walk.
“She did another outstanding job,” Kalp said. “It all revolves around Hope and the defense. If she can keep teams in check, we usually have enough offense to come out on top. Our defense today was terrific.”
Shaler coach Skip Palmer equally was impressed with Pehrson's performance, but he insisted that the Titans could have fared better had it not been for some shoddy defense that resulted in three errors.
More than half of Shaler's roster consists of sophomores and freshmen, and the inexperience at times showed.
“This was a learning experience for them,” Palmer said. “They know they gave away some of the game.”
Both teams were coming off lopsided shutouts in the first round, but Shaler appeared overmatched by Pehrson and Hempfield.
“Hope pitched a very good game. She kept the ball down on our hitters,” Palmer said. “There's a big difference between a freshman pitcher and a senior pitcher.”
Alaina Montgomery and Kelly Mahoney each had to hits to pace Hempfield.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.