O'Brien, Knezevich spur Baldwin sofball team's early offensive surge
The Baldwin softball team has been near-unstoppable.
On the field, the Lady Highlanders opened the week with 4-0 overall record, including a 3-0 mark in Section 4-AAAA.
But the Baldwin girls have had several games cancelled or postponed because of weather, including a section showdown Tuesday with defending WPIAL Class AAAA champion Canon-McMillan.
That game was rescheduled for Wednesday, against weather-permitting.
Baldwin generated 50 runs and allowed only four in its first four contests, which included back-to-back 18-0 and 17-0 section wins last week against Carrick and Upper St. Clair.
“Our team has been playing well with high energy and hard work. There is a team awareness, definitely a motivation, to prove themselves in the section,” said Samantha “Sam” Kuharic, Baldwin's fifth-year head coach. “Our goal still remains the same and that is to compete for the WPIAL championship.”
The Lady Highlanders were hitting .478 as a team at the start of this week, with seven players batting .500 or better.
Mallory O'Brien, a junior center fielder, and Katie Knezevich, a sophomore outfielder, led the way with sizzling .571 batting averages.
They were followed by junior third baseman Jaimie Schleicher (.562), junior second baseman Ashley Brady (.545), junior first baseman Charlotte Nieman (.538), freshman shortstop Taylor Dadig (.529) and junior pitcher Ana Hale (.500).
Samantha Wampler, a sophomore designated hitter, also had a .444 batting average through four games.
Baldwin's slugging percentage stood at .556, with an on-base percentage of .752.
“Our hitting has been strong, one through nine (in the lineup),” Kuharic said. “This week will be a test to see how we match up with the better teams in our section. Our focus at practice shows me we are ready for anyone.”
Hale, a right-handed hurler and the team's No. 1 pitcher, will be out of the lineup for a few weeks with an injury.
Hale posted a 2-0 record with a 1.40 ERA. In 15 innings, she struck out 17 batters while allowing 10 hits and three earned runs.
“Jaimie Schleicher has filled in great and will continue to do so,” Kuharic said.
“She is a hard worker and will give me 100 percent on the mound no matter the situation.”
Schleicher also was 2-0, with 16 strikeouts, and had not surrendered a run in eight innings of work.
Baldwin is scheduled to play two home games this week — today, Thursday, against Bethel Park, and Friday, against Peters Township.
Both are night games at the Baldwin softball complex behind the high school.
The Lady Highlanders, who have advanced to the WPIAL playoffs for five consecutive seasons, tied for second place with Bethel Park in Section 4-AAAA last year, two games behind Canon-McMillan.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.