In two years of high school sports coverage for the Pittsburgh Union Progress, the PUP sports staff has handed out Player of the Year awards for football, basketball, baseball and softball, but nobody has ever received the honor twice — until now.

For a player like Lexie Hames, there simply aren’t many accolades left to bestow upon her that she hasn’t already received. The Seneca Valley junior won a WPIAL Class 6A title while leading the Raiders to the PIAA championship game as a freshman, then she turned things up a notch on her way to being named PUP Player of the Year following her spectacular sophomore season in 2023. Hames announced her verbal commitment to play at the next level at Clemson prior to her junior year, making her one of only a handful of Power Five recruits from the WPIAL in recent years.

After a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Hempfield in extra innings in last year’s WPIAL title game, Hames and her teammates came back with a vengeance this spring. Returning to the WPIAL championship game for the third year in a row, Seneca Valley captured another Class 6A title with a thrilling 4-3 walk-off win over Norwin in eight innings. The Raiders then advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals before bowing out against District 1 powerhouse and eventual PIAA champion North Penn, which has now won three Class 6A state titles in the past four years.

Team success is an important factor when making these decisions, and Seneca Valley enjoyed plenty of it this year while finishing with an overall record of 22-2 — but in the end, it is an individual award. And despite missing a handful of games late in the regular season while dealing with shoulder/neck soreness, Hames put together perhaps her best season yet for the Raiders.

Seneca Valley’s Lexie Hames celebrates after a 2-0 win against Hempfield on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, at Seneca Valley High School. Hames pitched a no-hitter and struck out 18 batters. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

In 17 starts, Hames posted a record of 16-1 with an 0.56 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and 265 strikeouts to 34 walks in 111 innings pitched while allowing opponents to bat just .080 against her. She pitched arguably the finest gem of her career in a 2-0 win against Hempfield in a WPIAL championship rematch on April 10, striking out 18 batters while firing a no-hitter against one of the top teams in the state. Hames then fanned 19 batters in eight innings of work in the 4-3 WPIAL championship win against Norwin to lift Seneca Valley to its second WPIAL title in the past three years.

Of course, Hames is just as intimidating in the batter’s box as she is on the rubber — just look at her walks for proof. After drawing 35 walks in 65 plate appearances as a sophomore, Hames walked 34 times in 88 plate appearances this year, with most of them intentional. Still, the prolific power hitter swatted nine home runs with 27 RBIs while batting .426 with an on-base percentage of .652 and an even 1.000 slugging percentage. Hames now has 28 home runs for her career in just 155 at-bats along with 672 strikeouts in the circle.

For all of those reasons and more, Hames has been selected as the 2024 PUP softball Player of the Year. All players in the WPIAL and City League were considered for the award.

With Hames set to embark on the national travel-ball circuit before competing on the U.S. Under-18 National Team in the World Cup in August, the PUP caught up with her to reflect on another extraordinary season for the Seneca Valley superstar.

Seneca Valley’s Lexie Hames mashed nine home runs with 27 RBIs in just 54 at-bats in 2024, giving her 28 home runs for her career. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Q: When do you begin competing with the U.S. U-18 National Team?

A: I fly out on [June] 25th. It’s a training camp in Oklahoma. We get to train with the U.S. National Team. We get to see what it’s like.

Q: Then will you compete in an international tournament after the training camp?

A: Yes, in August. It’s actually kind of funny — the first week of school, I’m not going to be there. We are going to the World Cup in Texas. It’s in the U.S. this year, so that’s pretty cool.

Q: Will you still be taking part in [Premier Girls Fastpitch] nationals this summer?

A: Yes, after Oklahoma, I come home for one day and then fly out to Colorado. Then I have another tournament. I’m going to PGF a little early, because I made the PGF All-American team this year. I’m on the [Class of] 2025 team, so I get to compete in those games, which is really cool. Then I have the PGF finals the following week.

Q: How did it feel to be selected as a PGF All-American for the first time?

A: I’ve been working to be on this team for about two years now, and I finally made it this year, which is really cool. It’s a really selective team, and it’s really hard to be on. We’ll play the [outgoing] seniors, so it’s a really cool opportunity. The coaches are Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman, all the big names you hear about in softball. It’s televised on ESPN. It’s a really cool opportunity to play.

Q: How excited are you for the opportunity to represent Team USA in the World Cup?

A: I’m extremely excited. Little me, when I was 8 years old just starting out playing, would probably never think I would be on this kind of stage. It’s just crazy to even wrap my head around it sometimes. … You don’t really get the full picture until you’re like, ‘Wow, I get to represent my country in the World Cup this year.’ It’s just a crazy experience to be a part of. I’m so happy to have this opportunity to play on this team. It’s been really surreal.

Q: Can you envision yourself possibly competing for Team USA in the Olympics one day?

A: That’s the goal. It’s definitely something that I’m working toward. Being on the U-18 team is definitely going to help with that. It’s definitely a really big goal that I have for myself. Even through college and stuff, just working toward that end goal.

Q: Now that you have only one year left of high school ball, does it feel like the first three years of your high school career are flying by?

A: Yes, it went so much quicker than I thought it would. It was really hard leaving the seniors this year, knowing that Anna [Kalkowski] was graduating and knowing that she’s been my catcher since freshman year. We’re going to have to switch it up a little bit next year, but all the girls are up for the challenge. They’re all super excited for next year. I think we’re going to have a really good run next year. We definitely want to run it back for WPIALs and try to make another run at states.

Q: Take me back to the sixth inning of that WPIAL championship game against Norwin. Your team is down, 3-1, and the other team is clearly not going to let you swing the bat. Did you feel like the game was just about over in that situation?

A: For myself, whenever I get intentionally walked, I try to create as much energy as I can in the dugout. If you can attempt to create the same energy as getting a single would in that moment, I think that’s more helpful than just taking your base and walking off. What can you do to make the best of that situation? You are a little bit helpless. You can put a runner on base, but you’re not going to get any big hits or produce like you normally could.

Q: After the heartbreak of last year’s WPIAL final against Hempfield, can you describe the emotions you felt when Kylie Staudt hit the walk-off single to beat Norwin?

A: I still get chills thinking about it. We were just so excited for her. We were so excited for our team. It was just a surreal experience. That’s what we’ve been working for all season, to get back to that moment and to win in that moment. That’s exactly what we did, and it’s like all our hard work paid off. It was just an insane experience. … That moment was a highlight of our season, for sure.

Q: What area of your game would you like to improve on the most before you graduate?

A: I feel like gaining a little more speed. Just to hit 70 [mph] for a milestone. Just a personal milestone. … That and probably a little bit more location with my rise ball and working more on my down spin. I feel like everybody knows I’m a rise ball pitcher. That’s kind of what I’m known for. So I really want to work on my down spin and other spins that I have that aren’t really polished up like my rise ball. Just working on my down spin, two-seam and things like that.

Q: You’ve already pitched in three WPIAL championship games and one PIAA championship game while leading Seneca Valley to a pair of WPIAL titles. What more do you want to accomplish in your final season before moving on to the next level?

A: Win states. This year, my goal was to make it back there. I think our team goal was to make WPIALs, win WPIALs and win states. My personal goal was to win Gatorade Player of the Year, which I did receive the other day. The last thing to accomplish, I feel like, in my high school career — for personal goals, it’s to hit 1,000 strikeouts, and for our team goal, it’s to go back and win states. That’s the biggest thing in our last run. … We all got that taste of states freshman year, and we’re hungry to be back. That’s where we want to be. That’s what we want to do for our final run.

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