The sun has finally set on the 2023 softball season, and high school sports as a whole are now on summer vacation for the next two months. It was a season to remember for many reasons, but now it’s time to say goodbye.

But first, before everybody heads south to the beach or embarks on the national travel ball circuit, we here at the Pittsburgh Union Progress have some hardware to hand out. The inaugural PUP softball awards allow us one final chance to honor the area’s stars who shined brightest in several different categories in 2023 — and with so many worthy candidates to choose from, this was no easy task and one we certainly did not take lightly.

All players in the WPIAL and City League were considered, and all finalists and winners were selected by the PUP sports staff. These may turn out to be the first and only awards of their kind, so the bragging rights that go along with them will last a lifetime.

(Winners in bold)

Best Pitcher

Lexie Hames, Seneca Valley

Riley Miller, Hempfield

Shelby Telegdy, Elizabeth Forward

Skinny: Only a sophomore, Hames already ranks among the most dominant pitchers the WPIAL has seen in recent memory. After a tremendous freshman season that led to a WPIAL Class 6A crown, the flame-throwing phenom went 17-2 with an 0.46 ERA and 0.49 WHIP in 2023 while striking out 269 batters in 122 innings. And although Seneca Valley came up just short in its bid to defend its WPIAL title, Hames surely wasn’t to blame for the Raiders’ 2-1 WPIAL championship loss to Hempfield in eight innings, when she struck out nine while allowing one earned run on only three hits in an epic pitcher’s duel against Miller.

Seneca Valley’s Lexie Hames led the Raiders to their second consecutive WPIAL championship appearance while putting together a sophomore season for the ages. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Most Feared Slugger

Lexie Hames, Seneca Valley

Deirdre Flaherty, Mt. Lebanon

Bethany Rodman, Shaler

Skinny: When you hit 14 home runs as a freshman, your name tends to ring bells — and no name strikes more fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers and coaches than Lexie Hames. For proof, look no further than the well-publicized fact that Hames had more walks (35) than at-bats (28) in 65 plate appearances this season. Many of those walks were of the intentional variety, including all four of her trips to the plate in the WPIAL championship game. Oh, and she still managed to bash five home runs in 28 at-bats while hitting .393 with an on-base percentage of .738 and an OPS of 1.702.

After a breakout freshman season for Franklin Regional, Toryn Fulton followed it up with a sensational sophomore campaign for the Panthers. (Danny Moriarty Photography)

Best Pure Hitter

Toryn Fulton, Franklin Regional

Jenna Clontz, Armstrong

Rylee Gray, Avonworth

Skinny: The daughter of former MLB pitcher Billy Fulton, Franklin Regional’s sophomore sensation followed up her fantastic freshman season with an even better encore in 2023. After batting .414 with six doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 30 RBIs and 25 runs last season, Fulton slashed .561/.612/1.123 for a 1.735 OPS in year two. The 6-foot phenom doubled six times, tripled once and mashed eight home runs to go with 32 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

Trinity’s Ryleigh Hoy bats against Armstrong in the WPIAL Class 5A championship June 1 at PennWest California’s Lilley Field. Hoy belted two home runs in the game to help Trinity claim its first WPIAL title. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Best Championship Performance

Ryleigh Hoy, Trinity

Alivia Lantzy, Avonworth

Addy Frye, Neshannock

Skinny: Standing only 5 feet 1, Hoy broke out of a postseason slump by blasting a pair of home runs to go with five RBIs in Trinity’s 11-7 win over Armstrong in the WPIAL Class 5A championship game, helping the Hillers capture their first WPIAL title in program history. Hoy said she had never hit two home runs in a game in her entire softball career, but the Mercyhurst recruit brought the lumber on the big stage for Trinity in a history-making performance.

Neshannock poses for a photo after a 12-2 victory against Laurel in the WPIAL Class 2A championship June 1 at PennWest California’s Lilley Field. The Lancers won back-to-back WPIAL titles and set a WPIAL record with a 48-game winning streak. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Best Storyline




Skinny: Neshannock’s pursuit of perfection may have come to an end in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals, but that does nothing to tarnish another historic season for the Lancers — one that saw them win back-to-back WPIAL titles while setting a new WPIAL record with a 48-game winning streak. Not only did Neshannock go 48-1 over the past two seasons, the Lancers flat-out dominated nearly every foe they faced — including several top-notch opponents in Class 3A, Class 4A and Class 5A. Remarkably, 40 of their 48 wins during that stretch came by a margin of five runs or more, and only two were decided by one run.

Elizabeth Forward shortstop Julia Resnik finished fifth in the WPIAL during the regular season with a .643 batting average while playing tremendous defense in her debut season for the Warriors. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Rookie of the Year

Julia Resnik, Elizabeth Forward

Bria Bosiljevac, Shaler

Carys McConnell, Carmichaels

Skinny: Chartiers Valley’s Lily Duffill, Hempfield’s Lauren Howard and Neshannock’s Jaidon Nogay also deserve recognition for their breakout freshman campaigns, but this year’s award goes to Resnik, who emerged as one of the best hitters in the WPIAL while playing gold glove-caliber defense at shortstop for Elizabeth Forward. Resnik hit .573 with nine doubles, nine triples, three home runs, 31 RBIs and 33 runs scored in her varsity debut, striking out just three times and making only one error while helping the Warriors to a 20-2 record.

A Bowling Green recruit, Neshannock shortstop Aaralyn Nogay batted .574 and swiped 21 bags while leading the Lancers to a second consecutive WPIAL title in 2023. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Best Leadoff Hitter

Aaralyn Nogay, Neshannock

Mia Arndt, Montour

Ciara Camacho, Franklin Regional

Skinny: A speedy base-stealing threat with a keen eye for the strike zone and a knack for spraying line drives into the gap, Nogay was the gold standard among local leadoff hitters in 2023. Neshannock’s senior shortstop slashed .574/.675/1.114 — good for a 1.790 OPS — with 10 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 26 RBIs, 43 runs scored and 21 stolen bases. She also drew a team-high 19 walks as the ultimate table-setter for the Lancers, who finished 22-1 overall and won their second consecutive WPIAL Class 2A title.

Hempfield’s Lauren Howard proved to be a fearless freshman for the WPIAL Class 6A champion Spartans while taking her game to a new level during a memorable postseason run. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Union Progress).

Best Playoff Performer

Lauren Howard, Hempfield

Gabby Quinn, Neshannock

Kaitlyn Molitoris, Montour

Skinny: Howard already began making a name for herself with an impressive regular season, but her remarkable postseason run solidified her status as one of the brightest young stars in the area. In six playoff games, Howard went 10 for 18 (.556) with three doubles, a triple, a home run, three RBIs and 10 runs scored. She led Hempfield in hits, doubles, triples, homers and runs during the postseason, and she helped the Spartans win their eighth WPIAL title while setting a new school record with 36 runs scored.

Montour’s Mia Arndt is a true five-tool player who led the Spartans to the WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A championship games, and she will play both softball and volleyball at Point Park next year. (Alexandra Wimley/Union Progress)

Most Well-Rounded Player

Mia Arndt, Montour

Emma Paul, Armstrong

Eloise Facher, Shaler

Skinny: A multi-sport star at Montour boasting an exceptional blend of contact, power, speed and defense, Arndt spearheaded the Spartans’ run to the WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A championship games to cap off her celebrated high school career. The five-tool talent batted .526 on the year with nine doubles, four triples, eight home runs, 35 RBIs and 34 runs scored, and she made several highlight-reel plays in center field along the way. Arndt will go on to play both softball and volleyball at Point Park next year.

Neshannock freshman Jaidon Nogay, right, and senior Aaralyn Nogay (28) combined to form an electric duo at the top of the Lancers’ lineup while winning back-to-back WPIAL titles and a WPIAL-record 48 games in a row. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Best Sisters

Aaralyn and Jaidon Nogay, Neshannock

Maggie and Lauren Howard, Hempfield

Addy and Elly Vicari-Baker, West Allegheny

Skinny: Aaralyn Nogay was already a known commodity in WPIAL circles, but many wondered how Neshannock would replace her older sister, Neleh, who graduated in 2022 after a stellar career as the Lancers’ star center fielder. Enter freshman Jaidon Nogay, who seamlessly slid into the No. 2 hole in Neshannock’s order while looking like a carbon copy of Neleh in center field. Jaidon batted .550 on the year with eight doubles, three triples, a home run, 29 RBIs, 32 runs scored and 15 stolen bases, nearly matching Aaralyn’s production in every category as the two provided an undeniable spark at the top of the Lancers’ lineup.

Check back Monday and Tuesday, when we reveal the PUP softball Player of the Year and Coach of the Year for the 2023 season. The finalists are listed below.

Player of the Year

Mia Arndt, Montour

Lexie Hames, Seneca Valley

Aaralyn Nogay, Neshannock

Coach of the Year

Doug Fisher, Union

Tina Madison, Hempfield

Tom Rodriguez, Belle Vernon

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Steve Rotstein

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at