She's small, but packs quite a pitch.
Alexa Bryson, Latrobe's ace, is a 5-foot-1 righthander with a fastball clocked in the high 50-m.p.h range. She also has an impressive drop curve.
In tomorrow's PIAA Class AAAA softball championship game, set for 2 p.m. at Shippensburg University's Robb Field, Hatboro-Horsham will have to scratch out a few runs against Bryson to bring home its first state crown.
Bryson, who has signed with Robert Morris, has a 20-2 record with 306 strikeouts. The senior mowed down 25 batters in Monday's 1-0, 13-inning semifinal win over Central York. Last year, she went 17-4 with 277 strikeouts.
In last season's state final against Pennsbury, Bryson had nine strikeouts in a 3-2 defeat. She fanned six straight in the first three innings.
"She threw harder than any kid we saw last year," Pennsbury coach Frank McSherry said.
Against the Wildcats, District 7 champions, the Hatters will counter with righthander Amanda Sadowl. The senior ace, headed to Mount St. Mary's (Md.), had nine strikeouts in Monday's 12-3 semifinal rout of Owen J. Roberts.
Here is a look at the game:
Latrobe: Bob Kovalcin.
Hatboro-Horsham: Kelly Krier.
Latrobe: Beat Central York, 1-0, in 13 innings in the semifinals.
Hatboro-Horsham: With 15 hits, beat Owen J. Roberts, 12-3, in the semifinals.
Latrobe: Last year, the Wildcats were edged by Pennsbury, 3-2.
Hatboro-Horsham: In 2006, the Hatters were blanked by Shaler, 3-0.
Mollie Kovalcin, 2B, Jr.
Kelsey Steiner, DP, Soph.
Alexa Bryson, P, Sr.
Emily Fenton, SS, Sr.
Meghan Kozusko, 1B, Soph.
Rachel Eaglehouse, 3B, Sr.
Lauren Taylor, C, Sr.
Alexa Larkin, RF, Fr.
Amanda Malnofsky, LF, Sr.
Sam Ferry, CF, Sr.
Sara Dougherty, RF, Jr.
Jessica James, C, Sr.
Rachel Gieringer, 3B, Sr.
Heather Hannum, 1B, Sr.
Katie Wambold, 2B, Sr.
Julie Wambold, DP, Fr.
Jenna Phillips, CF, Jr.
Brittany Schlorff, SS, Sr.
Megan Kelly, LF, Soph.
Amanda Sadowl, P, Sr.
Latrobe: In addition to being a standout pitcher, Bryson can hit. She is batting over .400 from the No. 3 hole. Other offensive threats are leadoff batter and second baseman Mollie Kovalcin, No. 2 hitter Kelsie Steiner, a designated player, and cleanup hitter and shortstop Emily Fenton.
Hatboro-Horsham: The Hatters have plenty of pop at the top of the order. Sarah Dougherty, Jessica James, Rachel Gieringer and Heather Hannum combined for six hits, five runs and three RBIs against Owen J. Roberts. No. 5 hitter Katie Wambold, a second baseman, went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. The defense has been stellar all season.
Latrobe: The Wildcats do not have much team speed, and they have yet to face a pitcher of Sadowl's overall caliber.
Hatboro-Horsham: Can the Hatters handle Bryson's rocket-like pitches? In the semifinals, against Garnet Valley ace Courtney Spina, they scored only once.
With six starting seniors, the Hatters certainly have experience on their side. But Bryson and her abilities give the Wildcats a slight edge in a low-scoring contest.