When Mike Marino resigned as Trinity’s softball coach just a few weeks before the Hillers were set to start official practices for the upcoming season, it left the team in a difficult position.
Where could Trinity find a coach quickly enough who would not only have working knowledge of the game but would also know the girls on the roster?
With the Hillers returning a strong nucleus from last year’s Section 2-AAA championship and WPIAL quarterfinalist team, including Pitt recruit Olivia Gray, Trinity couldn’t afford to stumble through a season while the new coach learned everyone’s names.
The Hillers didn’t have to look far, tapping Gray’s father, Shawn, who had served as a volunteer assistant under Marino.
Gray knows exactly what he’s got returning from last year’s 12-5 team.
“We’re going to be solid all the way through the order,” said Gray, a longtime travel softball coach. “They all play travel and club softball. The hitting’s been great.
“We should be solid in the field, as well.”
The key will be finding a replacement for pitcher Tiffany Clark.
Sophomores Paige Gallentine and Katelyn Campbell were running neck-and-neck throughout offseason workouts and early practices, and Gray hopes one either steps forward or a combination of the two will be enough to keep the Hillers in contention again this season.
“Their styles really complement each other,” said Gray. “But we’ve got to help them out as much as possible. I told the girls that if we get a runner on base, we have to make sure we score them. We have to utilize our speed and be aggressive to take the pressure off those young pitchers by scoring as many runs as possible.”
With a lineup that features returning All-District players in shortstop Olivia Gray and sophomore catcher Delaney Elling, the Hillers should score plenty of runs. Trinity averaged just over eight runs per game in 2013.
Olivia Gray led the way, batting .545 with 14 of her 30 hits going for extra bases. She drove in 22 runs and scored 27 times.
Elling led the team with a .578 batting average and team-best 23 RBI in her first varsity season.
Gallentine and second baseman Maddie Hornak will help provide some pop in the Hillers’ lineup.
The Rams had an up-and-down season in 2013, finishing tied for fourth in Section 2-AAA with a 5-7 record and an 8-9 mark overall.
Former Seton Hill University standout Brandi Piccolino takes over as the new head coach, replacing Robert Karpinsky, and is excited about the team’s prospects.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to go undefeated or lose every one of our games,” Piccolino said. “But I expect us to compete in every game.
“There’s a lot of potential but we’re a very young team.”
Pitcher Celina Cantini returns for her senior season, and Taylor Myers and Carrie Guballa should shoulder some of the offensive load for the Rams.
South Fayette matched Ringgold in Section 2-AAA with a 5-7 record, but went 9-8 overall.
The Lions lost just three seniors from last year’s team and return pitcher Ashley Iagnemma, who had a solid sophomore season.
Sophomores Mikayla Fetchett and Bailey Kormick and junior Kirsten Chabalie are among the other key players returning for head coach Vic Iagnemma’s team.