Hempfield's Ryan named Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Softball Player of the Year
Hempfield junior pitcher Morgan Ryan is the first one to tell you that winning a WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA softball title was a team effort.
She just did her part like the rest of her teammates.
But after North Allegheny scored a run in the seventh inning of the WPIAL semifinals, Ryan and her teammates didn't allow a run. They blanked Baldwin, Latrobe, Erie McDowell, Chambersburg and Avon Grove en route to the state championship.
Ryan also did not walk a batter the final two games.
In the PIAA championship game against Avon Grove, the only batter to reach base was Olivia McGarvey, who had a third-inning single with two outs.
Ryan, a Notre Dame recruit, was 23-2, with a 1.11 ERA, 188 strikeouts and 12 shutouts. She also contributed at the plate, hitting .333 with six home runs and 30 RBIs, one shy of the school record.
That overall performance earned her Tribune-Review Softball Player of the Year honors.
It was a trying season for Ryan, who lost her father, Jeffrey, to cancer early the season. But with the support of her teammates, she was able to celebrate WPIAL and PIAA titles.
How do you describe your pitching style?
I pitch to spots, and I rely on my defense. I try to keep the level of scoring down.
What made the defense so special, making eight errors all season?
The amount of practice they put in every day. We were always working real hard. Talent and hard work is a good combination. Every day, we worked on bunt defenses. Everything is covered. Coach (Bob) Kalp puts us in every position possible.
How important was having Madi Stoner as your catcher?
As a player, she is really awesome. She's everything a pitcher wants. Everyone looks up to her. She's a rock, and she helped me a lot from everything that has gone with me this season. She's definitely my best friend. She's the one I could talk to, and she offers advice. We have a special bond.
The team made a promise to coach Kalp about getting to the state championship game and winning. How was it achieved?
It was very hard. I don't think we understood how difficult it was to get back. We hated the feeling after losing to Cumberland Valley in the 2015 semifinals. We were determined and had the desire to win. We had to go out and perform. We didn't look too far ahead. We just did it.
Coach Kalp is detail-oriented. How much of a factor did he play in the team's success?
He means everything. The amount of time he puts into the program, he's a great coach. I don't think we would have done it without him. It was an honor to win it for him. He's great with the team, and he pushes us to be our best. All the coaches do.
Why did you decide on Notre Dame?
Basically for the school. I like how they value their academics. It's a religious school. It has a great program, and I like the coaches. I like everything about it.
You lost your dad (Jeffrey) during the season. Do you feel you made him proud?
He meant everything to me, especially in softball. He was always pushing me to do my best. Every night he was with me in the backyard working on things. He was one of our biggest supporters. He wanted me to go to Notre Dame because it was his favorite school. When we won the semifinal game, I wished he could have been there. He was a big part for all of the girls, and we wanted to win for him.
Your mom (Shelley) was your Little League coach at West Point. What was that experience like?
My mom and dad were my biggest fans. She was always there. She coached a bunch of us along the way. Now she's at every game. I'm lucky to have her.
I know you promised Coach Kalp three WPIAL titles. Are there any other dreams?
I've always wanted to win a championship at every level. Win a national title in college and play on the Olympic team to represent your country. That would be a dream come true.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I like to be outside, and I love to play the piano. I play a lot of George Winston songs. If I would sit down now and play something, it would be from “Les Miserables.” I also like to read, and I'm a big fan of the “Hunger Games.”
NORTH ALLEGHENY, SR., P
Beining heads to Gannon having won 40 games the last two seasons. During a senior season in which the Tigers reached the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals, Beining posted a 19-4 record with a 0.97 ERA and 141 strikeouts. Beining hit .391 with 24 RBIs.
SOUTHMORELAND, SR., OF/1B
A three-sport athlete and first-team all-state selection, Bunner hit .569 and helped the Scotties to the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals. The Robert Morris outfield commit drove in 18 runs, stole 22 bases and hit a team-high nine doubles to bring her total over the last two seasons to 21.
SHALER, SR., P
Dobson lost just one regular-season game and finished her season in the circle with a 19-2 record, a 1.11 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 124 innings. She also was a force at the plate for the Titans, hitting .543 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs as Shaler reached the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals.
YOUGH, SR., P
Mularski helped guide Yough to the PIAA title, finishing her senior season with a 20-3 record, a 0.84 ERA, 208 strikeouts and just 26 walks. The state's Class AAA Player of the Year allowed just four runs in Yough's four PIAA playoff games, tossing back-to-back shutouts in the state semifinals and finals.
BELLE VERNON, SO., P
Parshall is just two years into her high school career and has already logged 427 strikeouts. The Penn State commit went 15-5 with a 0.84 ERA during her sophomore season and hit .431. Parshall pitched nine shutouts and set a school record with 17 strikeouts in a seven-inning game.
WEST GREENE, SO., P
A major reason for West Greene's 26-2 record, Renner hit .565 with 52 hits, nine home runs and 66 RBIs. The sophomore first-team all-state pitcher went 19-2 with a 1.72 ERA and 118 strikeouts, helping the Pioneers reach the PIAA Class A title game where they lost to Williams Valley, 3-2.
CANON-MCMILLAN, SR., SS
Rush heads to Drexel with an accomplished four years at Canon-Mac, finishing her senior season with 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .695 batting average for the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinalists. In her Canon-Mac career, the first-team all-state pick hit 36 home runs and drove in 132 runs.
BALDWIN, SR., 1B
Schleicher recorded 61 at-bats during the 2016 season and didn't strike out once. The Pitt-Greensburg commit finished with a .623 batting average, 30 RBIs and 26 runs for a Baldwin team that reached the WPIAL Class AAAA title game, where it dropped a 2-0 decision to Hempfield.
HEMPFIELD, JR., C
A Hillsdale recruit and first-team all-state selection, Stoner complemented Ryan to complete Hempfield's PIAA Class AAAA champion battery. The junior led the Spartans with a .519 batting average and 31 RBIs, including eight in the playoffs. Stoner also led Hempfield with 15 extra-base hits.