The combination of experience, timely hitting, nearly flawless pitching and a championship pedigree courtesy of the Hempfield softball team was more than Penn Hills could handle as the Spartans cruised past their WPIAL Class 6A Section 2 opponent 16-1 on Wednesday night at Hempfield.
Hempfield, the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions, looked to be in midseason form as it scored seven runs in the first inning and added 2, 3 and 4 in the second, third and fourth as the game was stopped in the fourth inning.
That first inning outburst from the Spartans (8-0, 4-0 in section) was a combination of a formidable lineup and costly mistakes from a young Penn Hills team that was tenacious but clearly overmatched.
Leading 4-0 in the first inning thanks to back to back doubles from Morgan Ryan, the standout pitcher and Notre Dame recruit, who played this game as the designed player and Madison Stoner, Stacey Walling hit a towering 2-run home run to left field to put Hempfield ahead 6-0, followed by another home run by Autumn Beasley.
Penn Hills (0-4, 0-3 in section) only committed two errors in the game but were plagued by a first inning filled with miscues that included fly balls hitting off the gloves of outfielders and passed balls from pitcher to catcher.
The remainder of the game was more of the same from Hempfield as it scored two more runs in the second with two outs as Walling smacked her second home run, another two run shot, of the game to give Hempfield a 9-0 lead at the end of two.
Walling finished 2-2 with two home runs and four RBI’s. Adding to the offensive output was Megan Monzo who was 3-3 with two singles and also added a home run, the fourth for Hempfield in this game.
Not to be outdone by the offensive output, Hempfield starting pitcher Maddie Uschock tossed a two-hitter and struck out six in her four innings of work. While most of the attention goes to senior Morgan Ryan, Hempfield head coach Bob Kalp realizes that life without Ryan, a senior, is inevitable and wants pitchers like Uschock, a junior, to get valuable game time for this season and beyond.
Despite Hempfield scoring 16 runs, Kalp, in his 27th year with Hempfield and 21st as the head softball coach, still seems room for improvement, citing that this team has already made as many fielding errors this season as it had in the entire 2016 season (8).
For first year Penn Hills head coach Rich Burkhart spoke before the game about his team being young and how hitting was a top priority, and we’ll “learn as we go,” understanding of course just how good Hempfield is from top to bottom.
Also hampering Penn Hills is the absence of Burkart’s daughter, Riplee Burkhart, who is a highly accomplished pitcher who had surgery on her pitching elbow in November and will miss the entire season as a pitcher, although she can still field and bat, according to Rich Burkhart.
Penn Hills looks to get its first win Thursday afternoon in a home game with Norwin, while Hempfield hosts its section rival Latrobe Wildcats on Thursday afternoon. Latrobe also in unbeaten in Class 6A-Section 2 play.
1 2 3 4 R-H-E
Penn Hills Indians : 0 0 0 1 1-2-2
Hempfield Spartans : 7 2 3 4 16-16-2