Jaci Timko and Ashley Morran share a love of softball, forged from a unique talent to play the game.
They also share a wish: To be a part of the Pennsylvania Rebellion professional softball team.
If their performance at Friday morning’s tryout is any indication, the two could be sitting in the dugout together, dressed in the black and gold uniforms, when the Rebellion open the National Pro Fastpitch inaugural season Friday against the USSSA Pride in Salisbury, Md.
Timko, 24, a graduate of Chartiers-Houston High School, and Morran, 22, a Trinity grad, were two of 26 hopefuls who took part in the five-hour event at Consol Energy Park, home of the Rebellion.
“I think it went pretty good,” said Morran, who played for Point Park until graduating last month. “I had a little nerves, but I got over them.”
Timko, who starred at Robert Morris, and Morran made the first cut to 13. The two were then pitted against members of the Rebellion in a simulated game.
“It was a great opportunity,” said Timko. “It’s just 10 minutes from my house. So it just made sense to try.”
Rebellion manager Rick Bertagnolli said it would be wonderful to have local talent on the team. But he added one caveat.
“It’s not going to be handed out,” he said. “It has to be earned.”
Still, Bertagnolli said he was impressed with the effort. Timko and Morran worked every position except pitcher and catcher. Timko, at 5-2 and 120 pounds, seems more suited for an infield spot, and Morran, with a powerful arm, can play infield or outfield.
“They both did extremely well,” he said. “There was not anything there that we didn’t expect. The things we saw were very good.
“All these girls gave us a lot to look at. We have a decision to make, not only on how they perform but also what we need.”
The group went through a series of throwing, hitting and fielding tests before being cut in half. The remaining players combined with some of the Rebellion players for the simulated game. Facing such pitchers as Sarah Pauly, a 6-3 fireballer; Angel Bunner and Anna Miller, a fourth-round draft pick from South Carolina-Upstate; was an eye-opening experience.
“It was all about movement,” said Timko. “Their speed is really something. It’s all about adjusting to it. It’s something I’m not used to.”
Timko and Morran were named the Player of the Year on the Observer-Reporter’s All-District Softball Team. Timko accomplished it three times (2005, 2006, 2008) and Morran once, in 2009.
At Robert Morris, Timko hit .359 and set school records for runs scored (130), career hits (201), home runs (27) and RBI (92). She spent the past two seasons after graduation as an assistant coach with the Colonials.
“It gave me a different perspective watching it,” she said. “I did a lot of work on the (hitting T) and fielding to prepare for this. I made my dad dust off his shoulder (to pitch and throw). I was a little hesitant about coming out, but what could I lose?”
While at Point Park, Morran was named Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2013 and made Player of the Week four times in her career. In her senior season, she hit .364 with a conference-best 11 home runs, 47 RBI and 14 doubles in 43 games. She was fourth in slugging percentage at .706.
“It was a relief hearing my name called (to make the first cut),” said Morran. “I went to all positions. My dad taught me how to play each position.”
Morran works for Landmark Security inc., which provides security for such things as concerts and athletic events.
“I’ve seen everyone,” she said. “I write reports on intoxication incidents, medical reports. It’s pretty detailed. One time I worked a shift watching an elephant for a circus at IUP: 12 to 12 and 12 to 12. I didn’t have to do the cleanup.”