The Trib HSSN Softball Player of the Week is Avonworth senior Sarah Helffrich, who stood out on both days of the WPIAL Class 3A championship game.
On Wednesday, Helffrich had two doubles and two RBIs with a run scored as Avonworth led Keystone Oaks, 8-0, when the rain came and suspended play in the top of the fifth inning.
When play resumed, Helffrich delivered a grand slam to put the Antelopes up 12-0.
She also was the starting pitcher and limited Keystone Oaks to no runs on four hits through four innings. On Thursday, she set the Golden Eagles down in order in the fifth to seal the school’s first WPIAL softball championship.
Did waiting 20 hours to finish the game cause more nervousness or anxiousness?
“I don’t think we were nervous. I think we were just anxious to get on the field,” Helffrich said. “We’ve been working for this for so long: being told we couldn’t do it and then finally getting here and showing we can do it.”
In three playoff wins to reach the final for the first time, Keystone Oaks allowed only six runs in three games.
Did Helffrich think the Antelopes would have that much offensive success against the Golden Eagles?
“That’s the one thing we really dialed down on in practice,” Helffrich said. “We know that our offense can show up more than it has the past few games. Coming into this game, we were ready to go.”
Helffrich delivered run-scoring doubles in the first and fourth innings before smacking a no-doubt-about-it grand slam in the fifth inning.
Helffrich pitched out of trouble in the first and second innings when the first two batters reached. She then cruised through the final three innings for her first postseason shutout.
“I think since it is a WPIAL championship game, the strike zone was a little tighter, so I had to find my groove there,” Helffrich said. “On the mound, I’m not really nervous because I know I have an amazing defense behind me.”
As the team prepares for the state playoffs, Helffrich said it is amazing knowing it is the first team in school history to bring home softball gold.
“Amazing. For four years, we’ve been grinding for this. This was the team that really pulled it together. I knew from the beginning of the season we were going to go far.”