Name: Ashley Iagnemma
School: South Fayette
Iagnemma’s week: The junior right-handed pitcher was dominant in two section matchups for the Lions, who clinched the program’s first section title. In a game May 6 against West Allegheny, Iagnemma struck out eight and allowed three hits in an 8-1 victory over the Indians. She also had an RBI-single.
The next day, with a Section 2-AAA title on the line in a road game against Trinity, Iagnemma was dominant, throwing a three-hit shuout with 10 strikeouts in a 10-0 win. Trinity only hit one ball out of the infield, and Iagnemma’s three-run homer sealed the section championship.
The victory helped South Fayette get the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs. The Lions will face Ambridge today at Fairhaven Park (2 p.m.).
Experience: After a group of seven freshmen had the Lions just one game out of the playoffs last season, those underclassmen gained valuable experience. This year, Iagnemma and company have led South Fayette to its best season in program history.
“It’s definitely been very exciting and we’re all very happy,” Iagnemma said. “We have to make sure we don’t get caught up and have to keep working as hard as we always do.”
The junior pitcher had a lot to do with that success. Iagnemma is batting .442 with three home runs and 27 RBI. In the circle, her 1.52 ERA and 136 strikeouts with just 26 walks are among the WPIAL’s best.
Having her offseason catching partner in the dugout as her coach has helped. Ashley’s father, Vic, is in his second year as the Lions’ head coach. During the winter months, when Ashley cannot practice her pitching outdoors because of the weather, she and her father/coach go to the gymnasium.
Pitching helps hitting: Iagnemma’s ability and knowledge as a pitcher allows her to pick up opposing pitchers’ tendencies when she steps to the plate. In big situations on offense, Iagnemma has flourished. She is hitting .423 with runners in scoring position.
“Since I’m a pitcher, I’m able to think about the type of pitches that are coming at me,” Iagnemma said. “Whenever I pitch, I look at the batter and I analyze how they stand in the box or what they are doing with their hands. I try to think the same way when I’m hitting.”
Section champions: Vic Iagnemma had high expectations for the Lions entering the season. They were young and talented, but question marks still remained.
Could they compete with Trinity, which has two Division I recruits?
Ashley Iagnemma helped answer that question by leading the Lions past the Hillers in both matchups.
“It always seems like the bigger the game, the better she performs for the team,” Vic Iagnemma said. “She pitched phenomenal in that game. I thought that was absolutely amazing and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Compiled by Lance Lysowski