Observer-Reporter Athlete of the Week
Name: Jasmine Fuqua
Fuqua’s week: Weather limited the Hillers to just a doubleheader against Section 2-AAA rival Carrick Thursday, but the senior outfielder made the most of it. Fuqua went 3-for-3 in the first game with two home runs, a double and seven runs batted in to lead Trinity past the Raiders, 21-0. She had three of the Hillers’ eight extra-base hits and went 0-for-2 in limited playing time during the second game.
Perfect fit: Fuqua’s performance against Carrick was not her first multi-home run game of the season. The senior left fielder went 3-for-3 with two home runs and five RBI in the Hillers’ season-opening, 17-10 win over Waynesburg. Her recent power surge has come at a perfect time for Trinity (8-1, 12-1) as the Hillers lost their first game of the season to rival South Fayette, 6-4, April 12.
Since the loss, Trinity’s offense has put up eye-popping numbers, averaging more than 16 runs per game in the five games since the loss to the Lions with Fuqua filling a key role as Trinity’s No. 6 hitter in the lineup.
The four-year starter is batting .552 with six home runs this season, and Fuqua said she owes the increased offensive production to Hillers first-year head coach Shawn Gray .
“It’s really exciting,” Fuqua said. “My coaches helped out a lot with (my hitting). We work really hard in practice on fundamentals. Shawn has been helping me fix my swing and helping me with my timing. He’s had a big impact on my batting this year.”
Fuqua, who is one of only two seniors for the Hillers, has been a perfect complement to the top-half of Trinity’s batting order – two of whom are Division I recruits. The Hillers’ No. 2 hitter, junior short stop Olivia Gray, is a Pitt recruit; and following her in the lineup is sophomore catcher Delaney Elling, a Penn State recruit.
“It’s great to be able to sit there and know that the bottom of our order is able to drive in runs,” Trinity head coach Shawn Gray said. “In this case, she drove in seven runs, and that’s incredible for a coach. It makes the game a whole lot easier to play.”
Perfect storm: The Hillers’ recent success has them sitting atop the standings in Section 2-AAA with a rematch against South Fayette set for Thursday, May 1.
As Fuqua is enjoying Trinity’s bid for a section title, she said picking up pointers from Elling and Olivia Gray has helped her develop into one of the most feared hitters in Class AAA.
“I definitely watch them, and they help me learn a lot,” Fuqua said. “It’s a learning experience every day. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now. If it weren’t for my teammates cheering me on and helping me through every situation, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am.”
Shawn Gray has enjoyed the steady play of Fuqua in left field as his team features seven sophomores and seven juniors.
“I don’t have to worry about the plays being made offensively or defensively,” Gray said. “She knows where to throw a ball when it’s hit, she knows what bases to cover on defense, and when she’s on offense she’s a great base runner. She’s a solid, all-around player and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when they see her as athlete of the week in the paper.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski