Hempfield softball endures 3-game skid
With 13 games in the books, the Hempfield softball team finds itself at the crux of its season.
After a challenging week, which saw the Spartans drop three out of four games, the team entered the week 8-5 overall and 6-3 in Section 1-AAAA. In a stretch of three days, Hempfield dropped contests to North Allegheny, Norwin and Seneca Valley. The Spartans rebounded with a win against Butler, but the slight rough patch was enough to drop the Spartans to fourth in their section.
Now, the remaining section games loom large: beat Connellsville, Penn-Trafford and Latrobe and the team clinches a spot in the playoffs; lose one or two and a shot at the playoffs is out of the team's control.
In order to finish the regular season strong and make the playoffs, Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said his team must be sharper in the field.
“We've had our ups and our downs. But in that three-game stretch, we gave up 19 unearned runs. Things just snowballed,” Kalp said. “We have to get better, and I think that the Butler game was a good sign. The kids have been great and they continue to work hard.”
As a result of Hempfield's inconsistent defense, the team has relied upon its offense to drive it to victory. When the Spartans score five or more runs, their record is 8-1. When they score less then five, their record is 0-4.
Perhaps no player has been relied upon more then senior first basemen Kasey Kolick. A Tribune-Review Terrific 10 selection last season, Kolick has a batting average near .500, and leads the team with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Kalp values her as a stabilizing influence in an offense that needs consistency.
“Kasey's been steady through the whole thing this season,” Kalp said. “She's been really strong in our lineup.”
Last week, Kolick became the school's all-time home run leader, and she sits only one RBI behind the school's record-holder in that category. The senior has accomplished these feats despite missing her entire sophomore year due to injury.
Still, Kolick isn't taking time to reflect on what she has already accomplished. Instead, she remains focused on the task at hand: making the playoffs.
“We've had some rough times, with losing a few games recently,” Kolick said. “But we have some big games coming up here. I think we're really going to step it up.”
Hempfield will also look for senior catcher Alaina Montgomery to continue her success in the leadoff spot of the batting order, where she is batting .500 with five doubles and eight RBIs. Junior Michaela LeDonne, who's second on the team with 10 RBIs, also has been a major contributor to the Spartans' success.
Kevin Lohman is freelance writer.