Lorie Schmalzle and her dedicated band of volunteer coaches are helping to groom the next generation of Wallenpaupack Area softball stars. The H&H Heat are a 12U travel team that's making its presence felt on the regional fastpitch scene.
Over the course of the past two years, Wallenpaupack Area has emerged as one of the truly elite programs on the reg-ional softball scene.
The Lady Buckhorns are now 2-time and defending Lackawanna League Division One champions, having piled up 13 wins in each of the past two seasons.
This talented group of softball players worked incredibly hard to attain such a lofty status in the District Two hierarchy...and it looks as though another group is climbing the ladder of success right behind them.
The “H&H Heat,”?a travel team skippered by Lorie Schmalzle and a dedicated band of assistants, is currently making its presence felt in summer action. This squad is comprised of players from Hawley and Honesdale (hence the H&H moniker) and competes in the 12U bracket.
Just this past weekend, the local lasses traveled to East End Park in Mahanoy City to compete in an invitational tourney. The Heat hammered out four wins in six games and earned a solid 3rd place finish.
“We don’t have the biggest kids in the world, but we’re quick and we bunt really well,”?Coach Schmalzle told The News Eagle. “We get girls on base and we move them around. We also play very good defense and we pitch well. I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made this summer.”
The Heat will be back on the diamond July 21-22 at another invitational event, this one based in New Palz (NY). H&H will also travel to tournaments in August and September.
On the Field
The Heat opened up its summer season with a 4th place showing at the “Early Bird Open,” held in Matamoras.
H&H?followed that up by winning a pair of games at the highly-competitive “12U?Summer Kick-Off,”?held in Pine Grove.
Every player on the Heat roster has contributed to these wins. However, there are four in particular who’ve led the way at the plate, defensively and in the circle.
Rachel Tirjan is a most unusual softball player...a catcher who is quick enough to bat lead-off. Last weekend in Mahanoy City, Tirjan was twice recognized as her team’s Most Valuable Player by members of the opposition.
In addition to getting on base and wreaking havoc with her speed, Tirjan is also a defensive specialist behind the plate.
“Rachel is just an excellent catcher,”?said Coach Schmalzle. “Nothing gets by her. She blocks every single ball in the dirt.”
Alyssa Watson anchors the H&H?infield from her shortstop position. One of the team’s battle-tested veterans at age 13, Watson plays Gold Glove defense and also provides serious pop in the middle of the Heat’s batting order.
“I?think that Alyssa is just a solid all-round softball player,”?Coach Schmalzle said. “She can make all the plays at short and she gives us good leadership.”
Watson also received a game MVP?award at the Mahanoy City tourney.
Jami Lesek is the unchallenged ace of the H&H?pitching staff.
A hard-throwing righty who hails from Honesdale, Lesek relies on a heavy, sinking fastball. She also throws a change-up and is in the early stages of developing a nasty rise ball.
“Jami really turned it up a notch at this last tournament,”?said Coach Schmal-zle. “We needed her to pitch well and she absolutely came through for us.”
Alyssa McKean provides Lesek with solid support at the plate. A slugging third baseman who bats clean-up in the H&H?batting order, Coach Schmalzle believes that McKean is on the cusp of a breakout season.
“It seems like Alyssa is hitting the ball hard just about every time she gets up,”?she said. “Alyssa leads the team in RBIs and she does a great job at third.”
Second baseman Madison Schmalzle also warrants mention as a 2-time game MVP?at Mahanoy City. In addition, outfielders Clayre Smith and Jackie Martin are contributing big plays on a daily basis.