Seneca Valley's softball team turned in a memorable season. Three of its members were recently honored with memorable accolades from the Pennsylvania High School Softball Coaches Association.
The Raiders' Kearson Wagner grabbed first-team All-State honors as an outfielder while pitcher Claire Zimmerman and catcher Karli Hacker were named to the second team. The trio helped SV go 15-6 and reach the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals.
Wagner, an incoming senior at Seneca Valley this fall, was named all-section as a designated hitter as a sophomore in 2018. She became a starter on defense this year in left field and relished the added responsibility.
“I loved playing in the outfield,” said Wagner. “I was on the varsity team as a freshman, but sat the bench. That lit a fire in my belly and motivated me. I knew what I could do.”
Wagner was flawless in 92 percent of her chances in the field and she remained stellar at the plate, batting .500 with 23 RBI while striking out just three times in 62 at-bats as SV's leadoff hitter.
Though confident in her own ability, Wagner received her all-state selection with humility.
“I wasn't expecting it,” she said. “I looked at the other players who made it and they're all really good. You never think it's going to happen to you.”
Zimmerman, who was a three-year starter in the circle, closed her scholastic career in style. She went 14-4 with a 1.84 ERA and believes the rugged schedule she and the Raiders faced, which included section foes and WPIAL final participants North Allegheny and Hempfield, has prepared her for the collegiate game. She will pitch at Slippery Rock University.
“It was very demanding,” Zimmerman said. “I faced challenging lineups and it helped me build up my mental game. It taught me how to be prepared for good hitters.”
Hacker, who also just graduated, hit .464 as a senior, clubbed six home runs and tallied 14 assists on defense, where she was a four-year starter at catcher.
“I never realized how much opposing coaches pay attention, but they do,” said Hacker. “They take notes on where your weak spots are as a hitter. They'd try to get me out with pitches to the outside, but I worked on things and by my senior year, I didn't have a weak spot at the plate.”
SV coach George Trew knows he has big shoes to fill with his star pitcher and catcher now gone.
“Karli was the best catcher around. She controlled the game,” he said, “and Claire's an outstanding pitcher.”
Having an all-state player like Wagner returning will help stabilize things for the Raiders in 2020. She saw a few innings in the circle this year and could see more as a senior.
“She'll be one of several players with a shot,” said Trew. “I don't believe we've ever had three players in one season make all-state. It's great for the girls.”