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North Allegheny softball team pitching for playoff run

Submitted - Senior Sami Beining of McCandless is a key pitcher for the 2014 North Allegheny softball team. She led the Tigers with 71 strikeouts last year.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Senior Sami Beining of McCandless is a key pitcher for the 2014 North Allegheny softball team. She led the Tigers with 71 strikeouts last year.
Submitted - Senior Christine Scherer of Franklin Park, who is playing shortstop for the 2014 North Allegheny softball team, batted over.400 last year.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>Senior Christine Scherer of Franklin Park, who is playing shortstop for the 2014 North Allegheny softball team, batted over.400 last year.

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By Shawn Annarelli
Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

North Allegheny's softball team started the season with some sun by traveling all the way to Florida for some pre-WPIAL competition.

The Tigers stayed in Kissimmee, Fla., near Walt Disney World, for four days and played two teams from Alabama and Florida in late March. They began their season 3-0 and outscored their opponents 37-10.

It was the first time the team has traveled to play in the Disney Invitational in three seasons.

“I think, as a senior, you appreciate it more the second time around,” player Sami Beining said.

“You really look forward to playing earlier and bonding with your team. When we weren't playing, we got a little park time. We went to Magic Kingdom, MGM, Animal Kingdom and Epcot for a little bit.”

Beining, 18, of McCandless, is the team's ace. She accumulated 10 wins last season and led the Tigers with 71 strikeouts.

Her younger sister, Madi, now a sophomore, finished behind her with seven wins and 46 strikeouts.

“Our section play started right away, and with such a hard section to play in, we have to work hard for everything,” Sami said.

“Getting away from the cold weather and getting some softball in, in nice weather, hopefully gave us a leg up.”

The Tigers had gone 2-1 in their first three section games as of April 2, and their goal is to compete in the playoffs after losing 5-2 in the WPIAL championship last season.

“That loss to Canon-McMillan in the (WPIAL) finals (last season) stung a bit, and everyone came into winter conditioning with the mentality that we want to be WPIAL champions, but there are a lot of strong teams that want that, too,” said senior Christine Scherer, 17, of Franklin Park.

North Allegheny returned seven of last year's starters and lost just two seniors from the previous team. Three position players — Scherer at shortstop, senior Mary Funderlich at third base and senior Laura Cotter at center field — batted over .400 last year.

“Our lineup can hit one through nine, so if anyone goes through a slump someone else can pick it up,” Scherer said.

“We also have two excellent pitchers that can keep opponents off balance, but we can't take anything for granted. In the locker room and on the bus we're a very loose, fun team, but when we step over the white line we acknowledge our roles and have to help each other do our jobs.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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