Clutch efforts in close games help Pine-Richland softball start 5-1


Saturday April 23, 2022 | 9:01

Natalie Zentz and Alexia Brown both pointed to the bond within the Pine-Richland softball team as one of the factors in their early season success.

While the team is close to the pitch, they are also getting closer between the lines.

The Rams have been solid in all three phases – throwing, hitting and defending – and have had contributions throughout the lineup. That led to a 5-1 overall record and a 3-1 mark in the 2-6A section through Wednesday.

“We have a great group of girls who are driven to achieve the same goals,” Zentz said. “It’s something that connects us all. We all want to do well and do our best, while creating a great bond and family atmosphere. This pushes us to never give up even if we lose a run or two. We don’t let anyone down. We are always here to pull ourselves together. »

Pine-Richland is coming off a season where it won its first playoff game in 25 years.

The Rams have been in close games throughout with four of their six games decided by three runs or less. They are 3-1 in those contests.

They got big hits from different players every game.

In the lone loss, a 3-2 loss to Hempfield, Brown tripled and Mackenzie Gillis had two hits.

Sophomore Jocelyn Langer, freshman Illiana Aggelou and sophomore Marissa DeLuca each scored a brace in a 4-1 win over Seneca Valley. Brown, a senior, homered, DeLuca went 4-for-4 with a double and Langer singled and doubled in a 6-2 win over Norwin. Rams coach Sam Hartzberg acknowledged that everyone on the lineup had contributed a big hit at some point in one of the wins.

Brown agreed with his coach’s sentiments.

“Everyone has something they bring to the roster,” Brown said. “We have girls at the top who can slap bunt and slide bunt and some who are all-out power hitters. We also have fast girls across the range. The coaches did a good job of putting us in the right places. We have a good upscale with sophomores and freshmen. When they hit, it continues down the lineup. We are all unique in how we can contribute, but having these young players come in and contribute has been huge for us.

While the Rams hit the ball well, outstanding senior pitcher Gabriella Aughton blocked her opponents. Aughton, a Boston College rookie, struck out 31 in the first four games in the division. Fellow senior Harley Aguglia recorded three outs in the seventh to earn the stoppage in a 5-4 win over North Allegheny.

Defensively, the Rams have been solid all season, but one play stands out from the rest, and it came in the game final against North Allegheny.

The Tigers had runners on base with two out when a high pop fly was hit just behind second base, but Langer ran from deep center field, laid out with a full extension, grabbed the ball and got on. hung up as she crashed to the ground sending the entire team into a state of euphoria as they rushed towards her in celebration.

It was a highlight reel catch and Zentz eyed it well from his right field position.

“It was really amazing,” Zentz said. “She had the perfect angle, called it and took it all the way. After she grabbed it, we were all jumping, clapping and screaming. It was such a good match and after she caught there was just a bit of relief that we won. These are the situations and games you live for. The fact that we all came together after that moment is part of what makes us a great team.

The Rams put themselves in a good position for the second half of section play. They will probably have to play close games again in the second round in a very competitive section, but they are ready for it.

“It’s really nerve-wracking to be in so many close games, but since we’ve built a team culture where we’re all focused on the same end goal, it helps us overcome them,” Brown said. . “We can all take a deep breath when we step into the dugout and know we’re on the same page. Those intense games helped us get closer as a team and overall they were good for us as a team.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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