Softball success has been commonplace for the Herald-Standard coverage area in recent years and 2019 continued that trend as local teams accumulated a bushel full of trophies with one PIAA champion (Frazier), a state runner-up (Elizabeth Forward), two WPIAL champions (West Greene and EF) and three district runner-ups (Connellsville, Mount Pleasant and Frazier) to go along with three section winners (Mount Pleasant, EF and West Greene).

There were some landmark triumphs as well with the Lady Warriors capturing their first WPIAL crown and the Lady Commodores earning their first state title. Another area milestone came from West Greene which won an unprecedented fourth straight district championship.

Not surprisingly, the 2019 Herald-Standard All-Area Softball Team is heavily represented by players and coaches from those stellar teams. The complete squad is listed below:

CLASS AAAAA

Player of the Year

Mia Burd, Connellsville.

Coach of the Year

John Burd, Connellsville

The Elite

Albert Gallatin: Maddy Hershberger, Annalia Paoli, Maddie Flowers.

Connellsville: Kara Hoover, Abby King, Kaybree Benton.

Laurel Highlands: Allison Lowery.

Honorable Mention

Albert Gallatin: Maria Sutton, Harlie Vance, Hannah Turtzer, Rylea Hlatky.

Connellsville: Kylee Yothers, Jena Hixson, Maddy Kineer.

Laurel Highlands: Emma Bliss, Mercedes Sickles, Zaia Zungri, Sydney Petrowski, Payton Vitikacs.

NOTES: John Burd, with the help of his daughter and star pitcher/hitter Mia Burd, guided the Lady Falcons to the WPIAL championship game and to a victory in the state playoffs. Mia, a Cornell recruit, had an ERA barely over 2.00 and a batting average well over .500. AG coach Larry Flowers deserves credit for keeping the Lady Colonials together after a rough start and steering them to a strong finish that resulted in a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season.

CLASS AAAA

Player of the Year

Kailey Larcinese, Elizabeth Forward

Coach of the Year

Harry Rutherford, Elizabeth Forward

The Elite

Belle Verrnon: Jordan French

Elizabeth Forward: Taylor Ludwick, Bri Sersevic, Anna Resnik, Jordan Pinneri.

Mount Pleasant: Carolyn Alincic, Haylie Brunson.

Ringgold: Nya Adams.

Yough: Kierra Waywood.

Honorable Mention

Belle Vernon: Ashley Joll, Natalie French, Sophie Godzak.

Elizabeth Forward: Grace Smith.

Mount Pleasant: Katie Hutter, Hannah Gnibus, Mary Smithnosky.

Ringgold: Hayley Resosky, Jillian Scherer, Ashlee Salembo.

Uniontown: Lyndsi Urani, Kaylee Hager, Jesslyn Daniels, Kaitlyn Adams.

Yough: Savannah Manns, Hannah Christner.

NOTES: Rutherford and Larcinese helped Elizabeth Forward put together the finest season in the program’s history and came within one late run in the PIAA final of winning a state title to go along with the WPIAL championship and a section crown. Larcinese was 19-5 with a 1.02 ERA and 202 strikeouts. The Lady Warriors took a 19-game winning streak into the state final where it rallied from two runs down in the last inning before falling 3-2 to West Perry. Chris Brunson took over as Mount Pleasant coach and led them to a perfect regular season with the Lady Vikings’ only two losses coming to EF in the WPIAL final and the PIAA semifinals. Alincic sparkled in the circle for MP with a 15-2 record and a 1.16 ERA along with 209 strikeouts. Mount Pleasant is one of only two local teams to have won at least one postseason game each year since 2015, a span that has included one WPIAL title and one PIAA title.

CLASS AAA

Player of the Year

Lexi Klatt, Southmoreland

Coach of the Year

Todd Bunner, Southmoreland

The Elite

Brownsville: Payton Hall.

Southmoreland: Faith Miller, Jess Metheny.

Waynesburg Central: Rachel Elsenheimer.

Honorable Mention

Brownsville: Emily Bohna, Savannah Urban, Chai Diggs.

Southmoreland: Charity Henderson, Abby Fuller, Emily Eutsey.

Waynesburg Central: Jordan Sibert, Bailee Shimek, Brooke Coss, Selena Phillips.

NOTES: Only one area coach has led his team to at least one playoff win in each of the past five seasons. If you’re trying to guess, one name that might quickly come to mind is West Greene’s Bill Simms, but that is incorrect. It’s Southmoreland’s Todd Bunner, who guided the Lady Scotties to a 1-1 record in the WPIAL tournament one year after winning the district championship. Bunner’s postseason record is 11-7 over the past five years, including 9-4 in the WPIAL playoffs (not including consolation games). Klatt played a key role in this year’s success. The senior catcher hit .483 with four doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 22 runs and a .923 slugging percentage.

CLASS AA

Player of the Year

Logan Hartman, Frazier

Coach of the Year

Don Hartman, Frazier

The Elite

Carmichaels: Kylie Sinn, Gina Ranieri.

Frazier: Kathryn Barch, Emi Curcio, Megan Celaschi, Juliann Johnson.

Honorable Mention

Bentworth: Leah Lindley, Jessica Rothka.

Beth-Center: Nicole White, Jen Zelenick.

Carmichaels: Shelbee McCann, Emma Holaren, Emily Conklin, Madison Ellsworth.

Charleroi: Kylie Quigley, Taylor Boyd, Jocelyn Polonoli.

Frazier: Rylee Evans, Savannah Berklovich, Tori Washinski, Haley Somers, Mackenzie Kelly.

NOTES: The one trophy missing from Don Hartman’s sparkling coaching career was a PIAA championship. That didn’t seem likely this year when the Lady Commodores failed to win their section and fell to Laurel, 9-3, in the WPIAL final. But Hartman got his team to refocus on the ultimate goal of a state title and Frazier gutted out three straight nail-biting finishes ending with a dramatic 6-5 win over Brandywine Heights on a game-ending double play. Don’s daughter Logan Hartman is known for her stellar pitching (21-4 with a 1.39 ERA and 195 strikeouts), but she was one of the area’s top lead-off hitters (.407 batting average with 29 RBIs and 24 runs) and scored the winning run in a 5-4 walk-off victory over Cranberry in the PIAA semifinals. It’s a true family affair for the Lady Commodores as one of their assistant coaches is Don’s wife Mandy Hartman (along with Harry Johnson and Chris Curcio). The Hartman trio are part of a WPIAL championship and a PIAA championship in their time together the last three years at Frazier.

CLASS A

Players of the Year

Madison Lampe, Jade Renner, McKenna Lampe, Kaitlyn Rizor.

Coach of the Year

Bill Simms, West Greene

The Elite

California: Marlee Renner.

Jefferson-Morgan: Cait Dugan, Jasmine Demaske, Autumn Gustovich.

Mapletown: Hannah Dusenberry, Macee Cree.

Monessen: Mattie Telegraphis.

West Greene: Jersey Wise, Mackenzie Carpenter.

Honorable Mention

California: Mylaina Pendo, Makayla Boda.

Geibel Catholic: Sara Ehrhardt, Maria Ruggieri.

Jefferson-Morgan: Brynn Boyd, Maddie VanDivner, Abby Ankrom, Savannah Clark.

Mapletown: Taylor Dusenberry, Faith Burkholder-Walter, Makenzie Reda, Kailey Stover.

Monessen: Hannah Yorty, Kendelle Weston.

West Greene: Kiley Meek, Brianna Amos, Brianna Goodwin.

NOTES: It’s almost impossible to distinguish who the overall best player was among the Lady Pioneers’ four big guns. Pitcher Renner went 20-5 with a 1.68 ERA and although not a premier strikeout pitcher she displayed impeccable control and let the stellar defense behind her make the plays. Renner batted .506 with five doubles and 37 RBIs. Third baseman Madison Lampe hit .482 with eight doubles, three triples, four home runs, 33 RBIs, 38 runs and 10 stolen bases while playing excellent defense. Shortstop Rizor led West Greene in extra-base hits. She batted .494 with 13 doubles, six triples, two homers, 35 RBIs, 35 runs and seven stolen bases while excelling at short after moving over from second base. Speedy center fielder McKenna Lampe hit a team-high .556 with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs, 24 RBIs, 42 runs and 23 stolen bases. Simms guided the Lady Pioneers to their fourth consecutive WPIAL championship. His true character showed after a heart-breaking 3-2 loss to DuBois Central Catholic in the PIAA semifinals, which halted a potential three-peat as state champs. After the emotional game which the Lady Pioneers had ample opportunities to win, Simms faced reporters and radio broadcasters with the class of a champion, and gave his opponent credit while upholding his senior class’s remarkable legacy. Simms showed what a class act he truly is. Rich Rush is also deserving of credit for guiding the Lady Rockets back into the limelight with a run into the WPIAL semifinals.

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