When you look at Fannett-Metal’s 11-3 record this season, you’d never guess that the Lady Tigers had just three wins in 2015.
But since Michael DeAngelo’s first season as head coach three years ago, F-M has been on a steady uphill climb - and now in 2017, the Tigers are finally reaching for the summit.
For the first time since 2013 - the year after the Tigers won the PIAA Class 1A state championship - the Fannett-Metal softball team has clinched a spot in the District 5 Class 1A playoffs, and rightfully so, as squad has proved time and time again that it will be a postseason threat this year.
Fannett-Metal won eight of its first nine games, completed a major upset over Class 3A leader Everett, and has nearly doubled the number of runs scored against - outscoring opponents 85-43 so far this season.
“We are building off some of the success we had last year,” DeAngelo said of his team, which has already surpassed its 9-11 record from last season. “They have a good attitude and they continue to work on fundamentals.”
Heading into the final third of the season, Fannett-Metal is ranked second in District 5 Class 1A behind Meyersdale, which as of last week remains undefeated.
But what makes this team so successful?
It all starts with Brooke Harris.
Harris is the team’s only starting pitcher, but thankfully for the Tigers - they don’t need anyone else. She’s pitched all but two innings this season, and boasts a 1.79 ERA.
DeAngelo said, "Right now we have a solid pitcher who can throw strikes and we have a solid defense behind her that can field the ball. Brooke is a workhorse and has picked up right where she left off last year."
Complementing Harris’ success in the circle is Fannett-Metal’s power at the plate, led by sophomore Morgan Ritchey who has only improved on her impressive average from her rookie season. Ritchey is hitting an astounding .605 and is slugging .842 through the first half of the season.
Her spark in the lineup put her in position to score 16 times so far this year, and has driven in seven runs.
“She is great offensively and defensively,” DeAngelo said, “but especially offensively, she just can just hit the ball. We have 100 percent confidence in her every time going up to the plate. She’s our girl when we need a hit, and she’s the one we want up there.”
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well this year,” Ritchey said. “And we have a very good defense, so if we can hit the ball, they’re not going to beat us.”
Ritchey is a key member of the improved defense that has helped Harris to an outstanding record so far this season. At shortstop Ritchey has 32 assists and 18 putouts.
“Brooke is definitely is a huge part,” Ritchey said. “She can hit her pitches and her spots and she doesn't make us have a lot of work. We are always there to back her up, but she has a huge role on our team.”
Makayla O'Donel and Emily Metcalfe are also batting over .300 to help the Tigers' scoring efforts. Metcalfe leads the team with 15 RBIs.