Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Experienced Bridgers in Title Hunt Ambridge at Top of Section Race

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Experienced Bridgers in Title Hunt Ambridge at Top of Section Race

Article excerpt

Ambridge Area softball coach Jim Huwar welcomed back eight starters this season, which appears to be great news for Bridgers fans ... not so much for opponents.

He has had similar situations in the past when he returned nearly his entire starting roster. It happened in 2005 and that team won a WPIAL and PIAA championship while going 24-2.

Huwar is not ready to compare the two teams but the 2013 Bridgers certainly have promise.

"I think our other group in 2004 and 2005, they played together a lot longer," Huwar said. "They were a little more consistent, they had played together for seven years. We had those kids for a long time. This group seems to be coming along and hopefully they start to jell pretty soon."

Through nine games Ambridge is 8-1 including a 7-1 mark in Class AAA Section 1. The Bridgers opened the season with six wins in a row before losing to New Castle in the second meeting between the two teams. Ambridge remains atop the section standings ahead of Ellwood City (5-5, 5-3), Blackhawk (6-4, 5-3), New Castle (5-6, 4-4) and Central Valley (4-6, 3-5).

"They are doing OK. They have seemed to come along since the weather has broken a little bit," Huwar said. "Hopefully, we get some type of continuity so we can get the hitting and the fielding together."

While many of the names are the same this season from a group that went 17-3 and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, the overall look of the team is different. Many players have switched positions. Senior pitcher Hannah Smith was 17-3 with 100 strikeouts last season but it has been sophomore pitcher Kelly Haslett who is pitching the bulk of the innings this season.

"We are going to pitch both girls," Huwar said. "We are either going to alternate starts or pitch both in games."

Haslett has made great strides since her freshman season.

"She has started to come along with a couple different pitches," Huwar said. "Pitching at 43 feet is a big difference in high school, more than travel ball [40 feet], because you are playing against kids, two, three and four years older than you. …

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