When Bethel Park steps onto the softball field, there is no off button for the Black Hawks.
“Our motto is from the first pitch to the last out, you have to stay focused and finish,” head coach Heather Semplice-Scott said.
Despite the distraction of senior recognition and a one-day rain delay, the Black Hawks kept their minds on their mission long enough to defeat Mt. Lebanon 12-2 in five innings and improve to 10-0 overall.
“We played a little slow. Not as much energy as usual,” Semplice-Scott said. “We’ve got to play with life. There is no other word for it.”
After a 10-6 showing in 2018 that featured a third-place showing in section, BP is red hot. Ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL, the Black Hawks were managing 14 runs per game and maintaining a .490 batting average before they took a tumble against Upper St. Clair, 10-2. As a team, they have smashed 20 homers and driven in 128 runs.
Against Mt. Lebanon, Sandra Soltes, Kayla Miehl, Maddie Lavelle and Reagan Milliken hit doubles while Shayna Postler and Lauren Caye drilled triples. Caye and Milliken finished with three hits apiece.
Miehl earned the win in the circle. The junior struck out five, scattered two hits and walked none. She was backed by the solid play of Izzy Sciullo at first, Soltes at second, Milliken at short, Lavalle at third and Postler behind the plate as no outs were recorded beyond the infield.
“Our defense played well,” Semplice-Scott said.
Nevertheless, the Black Hawks did not play up to their head coach’s expectations. Semplice-Scott anticipates her seniors–Sciullo, Lavelle, Haley Richert and Hannah Conroy will correct that.
“They pick us up,” she said. “They get us going.”
Currently, the Black Hawks are headed in a direction they have never been before. Although they advanced once to the PIAA finals in 1987, they have never won a WPIAL title. This spring, BP has a shot, particularly since they rank first in the district.
“I feel as though anything is possible,” Semplice-Scott said. “If we continue to stick together and work hard, it is definitely possible.
“Our goal is to compete in each game, “she added. “The overall goal is to make the playoffs and have a run in the postseason. As long as we continue to work together as a team, communicate, stay positive and complete games, we can achieve those goals.”
Confidence and an ability to play well as a team are big reasons why the Black Hawks have turned things around this spring. Semplice-Scott said past BP team’s have lacked those assets.
“This group is a tight-knit one,” she said. “They picked each other up and have stayed positive with each other.”
Semplice-Scott added their high-status has not affected the Black Hawks.
“Being ranked No. 1 hasn’t changed the way we work,” she said. “We take one game at a time.”
The Black Hawks have taken most games this spring because of the pitching of Delaney Nagy. The sophomore was 6-0 heading into her start against Upper St. Clair. She and Miehl have carried the Black Hawks in the circle and both have relied on Postler behind the plate.
“Our pitchers have been solid,” Semplice-Scott said, “and Shayna has done an amazing job of calling the game.”
It has been a joint effort for the Hawks at the plate.
“All the girls have been contributing factors to our success,” Semplice-Scott said.
Youth has also triggered the success. Soltes is not the only freshman in the lineup. In addition to Nagy, Caye and Milliken, Gianna Sciullo, Emily Momchilovich and Lexi Seese are sophomores.
After falling to USC, which Semplice-Scott called a “quality team” Bethel Park looks to get back on the winning track. The Hawks start the week hosting Canon-McMillan at 4 p.m. April 29. After a visit to Brashear on May 1, they close out section action at home against Baldwin. Before the playoffs commence, BP has scheduled games with Chartiers Valley, West Mifflin and Seton LaSalle May 6, 7 and 9 respectively.
“It doesn’t matter who our opponent is, we respect everybody and we are taking it one game at a time,” Semplice-Scott said.
So is Peters Township. The Lady Indians defeated Mt. Lebanon, 5-1, to raise their record to 6-5 in the section and 8-7 overall. Mirjana Hutnik clubbed three hits and Chloe Paugh drove in two runs to back Kate Hondru’s pitching performance that included three strikeouts and three hits.
Bethel Park defeated Brashear 11-1 to improve to 10-2 overall and remain in first place in Section 3, 6A with a 6-1 record.
Evan Bromley earned the win on the mound. He pitched five innings, scattered two hits and struck out seven.
Cooper Shoemaker and Sean McGowan smacked two hits and drove in two runs each. Anthony Strangis smashed a bases-clearing double to highlight a six-run, fourth inning.
McGowan ranks among the top hitters in the WPIAL with a .459 batting average that includes 11 RBI and 12 runs scored.
Eric Chalus, who has 13 RBI this spring, is the team’s ace with a 3-0 record and 34 strikeouts.
In other action, Upper St. Clair (4-3, 8-5) downed Canon-McMillan, 8-3, at Wild Things Park in Washington.
Eli Shedd pitched four strong innings, striking out six, before yielding to Nate Hamel, who recorded the save.
Ryan Ghise collected three hit in four plate appearances. Andrew Casey drove in two runs on two hits. Mark Krolczyk, Harrison Bavaro and Luke Geisler also had two hits each in the game.