Shaler 15U softball team excels with talented, young players
Being split up by age restrictions didn’t appeal to several members of the Shaler Area Little League 15U softball team.
With a roster that featured 11 13-year-olds and three 12-year-olds, Shaler coach Tom Moran was hoping the team would finish around .500 playing against older teams. But the group was able to continuously improve throughout the season.
Shaler finished 12-1 and beat Fox Chapel, 11-3, in the championship of the Greater Pittsburgh Girls Softball League. To advance to the finals, Shaler toppled Ingomar, 8-4, in the quarterfinals and Cranberry Township, 6-5, in the semifinals.
Moran said most of the members of the team had played together since age 7.
“The bulk of my girls were 13, 11 out of my 14 girls had to move up,” Moran said. “That division is 13, 14, 15. They’ve always played together. Three that were younger decided to move up with them.”
Members of the team included Sara Stayduhar, Cameron Murphy, Payton Junker, Mallory Moran, Maja Simunovic, Hilary Quinn, Cate Gordan, Anna Cibik, Bethany Rodman, Sierra Ricci, Alyssa Pedrotty, Nadaya Yarussi, Lexie Sutton and Izzy Cercone.
It isn’t a group purely dedicated to softball. Some of the members of the team are also involved in the travel circuit, while some have other interests.
When they were together, they made up a tough unit. Shaler won its division and the 16-team league by piling up 188 runs and conceding 25.
What helped was a strong focus on defense. Moran said this was developed by not playing fast-pitch until a late age.
“I think our best attribute has always been our fielding,” Moran said. “A lot of our girls played slow pitch until they were 11. In slow pitch, there’s a lot more action. Some of the girls don’t get as much activity in the field if they play fast pitch since they are young. Our defense was always our strong point.”
Pitching and hitting, Moran believed, improved as the season went on.
Shaler was the team that stuck together.
That ended up being a recipe for turning some heads.
“They worked really hard,” Moran said. “We’ve been working since they were 7. They would challenge each other. When someone is doing good, the others would follow suit.”