South/West Xtra: South Fayette overachieving on softball diamond

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They have one of the smallest teams -- physically speaking -- in WPIAL Class AAA and one of the youngest teams in the WPIAL.

But the 19-person South Fayette softball team with one senior, one junior, seven sophomores and 10 freshmen do not act their age and do not let size get in their way of chasing a goal -- the first section title in program history.

Through 10 games South Fayette was sitting in second place in Section 2-AAA. Overall the Lions are 9-1 following a 13-7 victory against Montour Tuesday and are 7-1 in section play, a half-game behind first-place Trinity (12-1, 8-1). They'll play the Hillers next Thursday.

"We are leading the section and it has been a long time at South Fayette since that has happened," second-year coach Vic Iagnemma said. "The girls are very focused and excited about how well we are doing. There is still a lot of season left."

There may be only one junior and one senior on the team, but the upperclassmen are making up for a lack of numbers in the Class of 2014 and 2015 with their leadership and production. Senior Taylor Coyne and junior Ashley Iagnemma, the coach's daughter, are two major reasons South Fayette is where it is.

"They have stepped up and taken over that role as leaders of the team," Vic Iagnemma said.

Coyne is a returning starter in the outfield, Ashley Iagnemma is returning as the Lions' starting pitcher.

"Ashley is a very strong pitcher and she actually gets stronger as the game goes on," Vic Iagnemma said. "She has great velocity and an arsenal of different pitches."

Ashley Iagnemma struck out 12 in five shutout innings in a 14-0 drubbing of Ringgold, a game in which she also knocked in five runs.

She has also shown a knack for stepping up in big games. She pitched a complete-game, one-hitter with 14 strikeouts in a 2-1 win in the Lions' first meeting against Ringgold on March 31.

In a section showdown for first place, Iagnemma struck out seven while scattering six hits in a 6-4 win against Trinity.

"Ashley rises to the occasion," Vic Iagnemma said. "Everybody would agree that Trinity is an excellent team and she rose to their level of play. When she is playing those really good teams, she is able to really rise to the next level."

She had 85 strikeouts through nine games this season. She struck out 120 as a freshman and 140 as a sophomore.

Iagnemma is surrounded by returning starters on the field, sophomore second baseman Courtney Blocher, sophomore third baseman Emily Bryan, sophomore outfielder Marissa France and sophomore first baseman Bailey Kormick.

Sophomore Mikayla Fetchet-Hurt was injured early in the season and in her place at catcher freshman Sara Jubas has emerged as one of the top ninth-grade talents in the WPIAL.

"Sara has been able to step into that role and do an excellent job," Vic Iagnemma said.

Jubas was leading the team with a .680 batting average through eight games. Jubas hit two doubles, a triple and drove in four runs in a 13-5 win against Moon Area earlier in the season. She hit a solo home run in the 2-1 win against Ringgold.

The second highest batting average on the team belongs to another freshman, Vic Iagnemma's other daughter on the team, Gwen, a shortstop. The younger Iagnemma is batting .522 and playing solid defense at shortstop.

Jubas tripled and Iagnemma doubled in the crucial win against Trinity earlier in the year. Gwen Iagnemma bats fifth in the lineup while Jubas leads off. Bryan has two home runs and 13 RBIs.

South Fayette missed qualifying for the playoffs by one game last season in Vic Iagnemma's first season. He gives a lot of credit for the team's success so far this season to his three assistant coaches who were also with him last season, Richell Hall, Jim Rigos and Joe Silhanek.

"We have a commitment from our girls," Vic Iagnemma said. "They are committed to the team and committed to working and playing hard. I really think that has been a big key to our success."


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