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Hames stars yet again as Seneca Valley claims section crown

Shining Bright
Seneca Valley teammates celebrate with pitcher Lexi Hames (44) after they defeated Hempfield, 3-0, in a WPIAL Section 1-6A softball clash at Seneca Valley on Thursday. Justin Guido/Butler Eagle

JACKSON TWP — The feats that Lexie Hames accomplishes would draw oohs and ahs. That is, if those acts of awesome haven’t almost become commonplace.

The Seneca Valley sophomore softball phenom added 18 to her boatload of strikeouts in the circle and bashed a three-run sixth-inning homer to down visiting Hempfield, 3-0, and claim the entirety of the WPIAL Section 1-6A title Thursday.

“I just think I have confidence in myself,” Hames said. “I work every day for hours — staying after practice, all that kind of stuff — and I go in knowing I’m prepared.

“Just trusting myself and having that confidence is what I think helps me produce.”

She began the contest by fanning the side in each of the first three frames. In the fourth, Lauren Howard recorded the Spartans’ lone hit of the ballgame, a two-out infield single. Howard swiped second before the Raiders’ hurler sat Emily Griffith down on strikes.

The visitors’ only other base-runner would come via a walk with two gone in the sixth.

“I’m just in awe of how she plays and her composure as a sophomore,” said Seneca Valley coach Marlesse Hames, who is also Lexie’s mother. “She owns that mound, she owns that presence.”

Lexie Hames was given a free pass to lead off the home second, then was swapped out with courtesy runner Addie Winkle. She advanced to third on two sacrifice bunts, then Neve Miller flew out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the fourth, Kara Pasquale had a lead-off single and moved to second on a sac bunt. Hames was intentionally walked, but Hempfield’s Riley Miller got out of the inning unscathed.

Rylee Kratochvil banged out an infield single after fouling off four offerings to start the sixth, and Pasquale and Anna Kalkowski filled the bases by getting on with bunts.

“Those girls getting on base bunting, they’re so fast using that small ball,” the elder Hames said. “They’re phenomenal up there and trying to get them around, we’ve been successful doing that.”

It left no room for the ever-dangerous younger Hames.

That was until Kratochvil was caught napping on a catcher’s throw-over to third base. Still, the Spartans were between a rock and a hard place.

“We consulted as an entire coaching staff and we decided to pitch to her,” Spartans coach Tina Madison said. “Reason being, the girl following her (Gross) is, I don’t know, 5-for-6 against Riley in the past two games.

“So they were getting a run there, most likely either way.”

Lexie Hames drove the next pitch she saw over the right center field fence. She skipped and pumped her arms, unable to contain her elation.

“I got a little excited there,” she said. “After they intentionally walked me the second at-bat, I was a little surprised that they didn’t the third.

“It’s crazy, just being able to produce for my team in that kind of manner. It’s just so much energy. You just have to let it out a little bit.”

Both teams earn a bye into the WPIAL semifinals, which are to be played on May 24.

“We’re going to be battling this team for the next two years,” Madison said. “We’ll have many a shot both ways ... At Hempfield, it came down to them making a mistake. Here, it was we made the mistake.

“It’s going to come down to that.”

Hempfield 000 000 0 — 0 1 0

Seneca Valley 000 003 x — 3 7 0

W: Lexie Hames 7IP (18K, 1BB). L: Riley Miller 6IP (6K, 2BB).

Hempfield (16-3, 13-3): Lauren Howard 1B

Seneca Valley (16-1, 15-1): Rylee Kratochvil 1B, Kara Pasquale 2-1B R, Anna Kalkowski 1B R, Lexie Hames HR 3-RBI R, Bella Gross 1B, Neve Miller 1B

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