The MSA Sports Diamond Dolls all-star softball team is heavy on golden girls — as in girls who won gold medals.
The team is made up of the top dozen players in the WPIAL and is selected by the MSA Sports staff. The team has four girls who won gold medals for WPIAL championships — Alexa Larkin of Latrobe Nicole Sleith of Yough Casey Mosses of Burrell and Kiersten Conwell of Chartiers-Houston. Also Valley's Caitlin Nealer won a gold medal as a PIAA champion.
Pitching is the name of the game in softball and this year? team includes nine pitchers.
Here is a look at the Diamond Dolls team as well as the player of the year.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
YOUGH – P
This senior pitched helped the Cougars claw their way to their first WPIAL Class AAA championship.
Sleith was virtually unhittable at times this season. She had three no-hitters and had 21 strikeouts in one game. She finished with a 19-2 record and a 0.56 ERA. She allowed only 40 hits all season and struck out 298. She walked only 12.
On top of all that she also had a .507 batting average as the Cougars' leadoff hitter. She finished her career with 979 strikeouts and was 39-5 the past two seasons.
Sleith will play next season at Robert Morris.
LATROBE – P
There was a Wildcat strike in WPIAL Class AAAA this year and Larkin was the leader of the Wildcats. She helped Latrobe win the WPIAL title with a 14-2 record. She had one perfect game and struck out 195 in 105 1/3 innings. She also had nine shutouts and a 0.93 ERA. She allowed only 47 hits.
Larkin will take her act to the Pitt Panthers next season.
MOUNT LEBANON – SS
After helping Mount Lebanon win WPIAL and PIAA titles last year as a junior Apke was considered one of the WPIAL's best position players coming into this season and she did nothing but enhance her reputation.
Apke a senior hit .428 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. She also excelled defensively. Apke will play next season at Robert Morris.
HEMPFIELD – P
When Hempfield needed a win the Spartans often placed their faith in Hope. The super sophomore Pehrson finished with a 15-1 record and had 96 strikeouts.
She helped Hempfield finish the regular season with a perfect record and she was second in the WPIAL in victories during the regular season with 15.
SHALER – P
Syd the Kid helped Shaler become one of the top teams in WPIAL Class AAAA this season. In the regular season she was third in the WPIAL in pitching wins and helped Shaler win a section title with five shutouts. She is not an overpowering pitcher relying more on control.
Smyers a junior finished with a 16-2 record.
SHALER – C
Only a junior Hackett already is getting some interest from Division I and II colleges and it?Aos easy to see why. She is a terrific hitter ?Ai and hits with power.
She batted .604 this season with six home runs 28 RBIs and a slugging percentage of 1.019. She also is a good defensive catcher.
VALLEY – P
This Valley girl helped the Vikings win the PIAA Class AAA championship. It was an impressive feat after Valley moved up in class from Class AA last season. Nealer had an 18-2 record for the Vikings with a 0.65 ERA. She had 223 strikeouts and allowed only 39 hits. She also batted above .400 with three home runs.
Nealer will pitched next season at Allegheny College.
AMBRIDGE – C
Beck a senior was a tough out for opponents as she batted .529 for the WPIAL Class AAA runner-up Bridgers.
She helped the team to a 17-4 record. She scored 18 runs had 17 RBIs nine doubles and two home runs. She also is strong defensively.
MONTOUR – P
Kutchman gave a Spartan-like effort this season helping the team to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals. She finished with a 13-5 record and 117 strikeouts. She had 117 strikeouts. This came after she led the team to a WPIAL title as a sophomore.
Kutchman also was a top hitter for Montour.
BURRELL – P
Moses will play next season at Seton Hall University. This year she had Burrell in the hall of fame as the Bucs won the WPIAL Class AA title. Moses was 15-2 with 156 strikeouts.
As a hitter Moses had a .333 batting average with 16 RBIs. A four-year starter she was 33-6 the past two seasons.
It is safe to call Manor a super sophomore. This 10th grader led the entire WPIAL in strikeouts during the regular season with 260. She finished with 280. She had a 16-6 record and helped the Lions reach the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. She had 18 strikeouts in one game and in two years she has 490 strikeouts.
This season she also hit .365 with 11 RBIs.
CHARTIERS-HOUSTON – P
Conwell had a 72-15 career record with 845 strikeouts and she saved her best season for last. Conwell had a 22-1 record as the Buccaneers won the WPIAL Class A championship with a perfect record. The team lost in the PIAA semifinals. Conwell also had 210 strikeouts in 128 innings and a 0.16 ERA. She also was a standout hitter with a .435 batting average.
Conwell will play next season at Mount Aloysius.