There are plenty of teams around the area with unfinished business, but there just seems to be something different about Chartiers Valley.
Having reached the cusp of the WPIAL championship game only to come up just short — not just once but two years in a row — the Colts are playing like a team on a mission so far in 2023. With tons of big bats scattered throughout the lineup and a whole roster of hungry players out for revenge, Chartiers Valley (14-1, 10-0) is looking downright scary while riding a 13-game winning streak into the final week of the regular season.
“These girls, they have the mentality that they want to win. They don’t plan on going home anytime soon,” Colts coach Chris Lloyd said. “Their goal is to get to the top, and they just want to keep climbing the mountain.”
Having dropped down from Class 5A to Class 4A, there are still several threats looming on the horizon with the postseason just around the corner. But right now, there might not be a more dangerous lineup in the WPIAL than the one possessed by Chartiers Valley.
It starts at the top with senior shortstop Madison Crump, a two-time all-section pick and Lloyd’s daughter. She’s batting .491 with 5 doubles, 3 triples, a home run, 14 RBIs and 26 runs scored to go with 6 stolen bases — all while playing gold glove-caliber defense at the game’s most important position.
“I got her started into baseball when she was 4, and she played baseball for a couple years, then I finally got her into softball,” Lloyd said. “Just watching her grow, it’s been amazing. Just coaching her this whole time — she’s made it so easy with how gifted and talented she is. She works hard at it, and she made it really easy coaching her.
“In the car rides home, it’s like having a little coach. She’ll question me, she’ll talk to me. Her softball IQ is off the charts.”
Along with Crump, senior center fielder Mackenzie Maga also earned all-section honors in both her sophomore and junior seasons — and she’s well on her way to more postseason recognition once again. Maga patrols the outfield at an elite level and swings a solid bat, as proven by her .390 batting average with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 17 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
Batting second is second baseman Rylee Prosperi, another senior who has been instrumental to the team’s success since her sophomore year. Prosperi is batting .375 with 4 doubles and a triple while driving in 21 runs and scoring 20. Both Crump and Prosperi will attend Penn State in the fall, but neither has plans of walking on to the softball team — although Lloyd insists they should at least try playing for the club team.
Twin sisters Zoe and Callie Mangan round out the team’s five senior starters this year, and both are having major impacts as well. Zoe is the Colts’ starting pitcher, holding a 3.52 ERA while also batting .422 and leading the team with seven doubles. Meanwhile, Callie might have hit the team’s biggest home run so far this season when she belted a two-run shot to help lift Chartiers Valley to a 5-3 win at section-rival Montour on April 14. The two teams will face off once again Tuesday to determine the section champion, with the Colts attempting to win the section title outright by sweeping the season series.
“They’re tough. Everyone is a tough out. They put the ball in play,” Lloyd said. “It was definitely a big win for us, and obviously we play them again next week. … We play Hampton on Monday and they play Blackhawk, and it will set up a great way to end the season [on Tuesday].”
And as if those talented seniors weren’t enough to strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers, consider that the two most productive hitters in Chartiers Valley’s lineup have been freshman Lily Duffill and sophomore Taylor Walsh. A rock-solid catcher with an extremely bright future, Duffill is batting .500 with a team-high four home runs and 26 RBIs, while Walsh leads the team with a .524 batting average to go with 2 doubles, 4 triples, a home run and 25 RBIs. On top of that, Walsh is also excelling as the team’s closer for the second year in a row, sporting a 1.89 ERA with 45 strikeouts to 13 walks in 33 2/3 innings.
“[Duffill] actually hit three home runs in the last week. And they’re monster shots,” Lloyd said. “She’s solid behind the plate. She’s a tall girl, and she’s really athletic. She can pitch, too.”
Elsewhere, junior third baseman Marta Gualazzi is a steady run producer in the middle of the Colts’ lineup, batting .460 with 4 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored on the year. Dubbed as the team’s “sixth senior” by Lloyd, the Robert Morris recruit has started since her freshman year while gaining some valuable big-game experience along the way.
Put it all together, and you have the recipe for what looks like a surefire championship contender in Class 4A. And while Elizabeth Forward is undefeated and looking nearly unbeatable, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Chartiers Valley hoisting its first WPIAL championship trophy in 45 years when it’s all said and done.
“[In 2021], I didn’t know that we would be where we were at, but I knew going forward, there was always a chance they could go far,” Lloyd said. “Making it to the semifinals the last two years was a great experience, but it’s time to get over the hump.”
Trinity keeping up with top teams in Class 5A gauntlet
Just like Chartiers Valley, Trinity lost its second game of the year to start the season 1-1, and neither team has lost since.
The Hillers made it 12 victories in a row with a 7-0 win against Bethel Park on Thursday, further solidifying their grip on the top spot in Class 5A Section 4 with only a few precious games remaining. Trinity (13-1, 9-0) has now outscored its previous 12 opponents by a combined score of 112-20, with the Hillers’ only loss this season coming against Lake Bradley, Fla., in the second game of a season-opening doubleheader way back on March 23.
Infielders Ryleigh Hoy and Hanna Suhoski are both returning all-section selections for Trinity, as are senior outfielder Amber Morgan and senior pitcher Taylor Dunn. Barring a late-season collapse, the Hillers appear to be angling for a top-four seed in what should be a thrilling Class 5A tournament.
Lexie Hames maintains ridiculous pace for Seneca Valley
In the midst of a one-of-a-kind season for defending WPIAL Class 6A champion Seneca Valley (12-1, 11-1), sophomore sensation Lexie Hames continues to put up mind-boggling numbers without even taking the bat off her shoulders.
In the Raiders’ 8-2 win against Mt. Lebanon on Thursday, Hames earned the win after pitching a complete game with 19 strikeouts — her second consecutive outing with 19 Ks. Hames allowed one earned run on two hits and four walks, pushing her season total to 189 punchouts in only 83 innings pitched.
As for her day at the plate, it was another quiet one for Hames — not that there was anything she could do about it. The Blue Devils chose to walk the powerful slugger all four times she stepped up to bat, raising her season total to 26 walks in 45 plate appearances.