Thanks to a trip to Tennessee in late March to play six games, the Peters Township High School softball team has been able to get out to one of the fastest starts in the WPIAL.
While some WPIAL teams have played as few as two games because of weather postponements, the Indians have played 11.
The Indians have made the most of their opportunities to get outside. They are 10-1 this season including 4-1 in Class AAAA Section 4.
Under first-year coach Robert Bowers the Indians swept the competition at the Gordonsville Tournament in Tennessee, going 6-0 over two days and outscoring the opposition, 45-2.
"It was a good opportunity to get a head start," Bowers said. "I don't think anybody locally hit the field at all when the season opened up here."
Competition was a little tighter upon returning home. Peters Township earned section wins against Baldwin, 11-7, Bethel Park, 2-1 and Chartiers Valley, 10-8, but lost, 5-4, at Mt. Lebanon. The Indians rebounded Tuesday with a 4-2 section victory against Upper St. Clair.
Peters Township was 15-5 last season. It shared the section title with eventual WPIAL champion Canon-McMillan. The Indians were denied a shot at the Big Macs in the WPIAL final after it lost, 4-0, to Hempfield Area in the WPIAL semifinals. Seven seniors graduated from that team including pitcher Tara Konopka.
"We still have some very talented players," Bowers said. "We expected to do well, but maybe we didn't expect to do this well."
Bowers coached for the Pittsburgh Power travel softball team before taking the Peters Township job. Most of his players play softball year-round on travel teams.
"Overall I have a young team, but they are fundamentally sound," Bowers said. "They are very mature and most of my players have played softball for a long time. They are very mature and very capable."
The majority of the Peters Township lineup is made up of sophomores.
"Initially, I knew I had a talented group of girls," Bowers said. "I just didn't know how talented they were. They have exceeded my expectations."
Senior Hannah Berardino is a returning starter. She played second base last season but moved to third base this season. Berardino bats leadoff.
Senior Abby Cunningham started at shortstop last season but this year she starts as a catcher and bats second.
Sophomore Kellyn Perich is one of the top young talents in the WPIAL. Perich pitches but can also play center field, catcher or shortstop. Perich bats third in the lineup.
Sophomores Carly Konopka and Molly Campbell also pitch along with Perich. Konopka is the younger sister of former Peters Township pitcher Tara Konopka.
"All three pitchers are very good," Bowers said. "They have a variety of pitches. I have been switching mostly from Carly and Kellyn depending on the game situation and kind of feeling my way through it."
In a 10-8 section win against Chartiers Valley on Saturday, Perich picked up the win, striking out nine and knocking in three runs while Konopka had a two-run home run.
Sophomore shortstop Lindsay McKnight bats cleanup. Campbell plays first base when she is not pitching and bats fifth. Junior second baseman Tori Weida bats sixth, Konopka bats seventh and sophomore right fielder Viktoria Heiser and sophomore Meghan Bastyr round out the lineup.
Brianna Smith, the lone freshman on the varsity roster, she can catch and play multiple infield positions.
"I have depth throughout the lineup," Bowers said. "Top to bottom in the lineup, I have really good depth."