Softball Off to a Fast Start

| Sunday, April 2, 2017, TRIB-LIVE

The Fox Chapel softball team opened its season March 27 against Hampton and brought some big bats along.

The Foxes pounded out 14 hits on their way to an 11-2 win. Tawnya Holben had a three-run homer and also drove in a fourth run, while Calle Zmenkowski and Brianna O’Malley had three hits apiece.

FC coach Lisa Hess is optimistic this year’s team can build on last season’s 12-8 campaign that ended with a loss to Canon-McMillan in the WPIAL playoffs.

“We have 10 girls returning who were starters or contributed to the varsity lineup last year,” she said. “We only lost two players to graduation, including the big bat of Sam Olbrich, who batted .468 with three homers.

“We don’t have your typical superstar. We have a good, solid lineup of talented players who, when they play together, can compete with the best of them. We have two experienced returning starting pitchers who will give us a chance in every game.”

Returning starters for the Foxes are seniors Calle Zmenkowski (P), Kerstin Nestel (LF), Alyssa Guzzie (CF) and Gretchen Angerman (RF); and juniors Brianna O’Malley (1B), Emma Humes (P/Utility), Krystyna Burdelski (SS) and Tawnya Holben (3B).

Returning players who will see varsity time are juniors Grace Katz (2B), Lea Prato (OF) and Eva Speacht (C/1B).

Hess also has a pair of promising newcomers in freshmen Jessica Klein (OF/Utility) and Claire Katz (3B/Utility).

“Both should see varsity time,” Hess said. “Jessica is an all-around good player with a very good bat. Claire has shown great promise in the infield and is improving every day.”

Hess said the team will face some tough section opponents in Hempfield, Latrobe and Norwin. Section 2-6A also includes Penn Hills and Allderdice.

“We will look to compete hard in a very tough section that includes the two-time WPIAL champion and last year’s state champion, Hempfield,” Hess said. “Latrobe is right on their heels with the majority of their starters returning. Our girls are prepared for the challenge and know that they cannot take a day off. We’re looking to get back into the playoffs and make a good run. I like being the underdog.

“We need to have consistent, unselfish hitting where we move runners and score runs in every inning possible. We will not beat good teams without this because the teams we face have strong, home run producing hitters.”