Freeport’s Ally DeJidas named Valley News Dispatch Softball Player of the Year
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Freeport, jr., center field
Ally DeJidas knows her favorite home run from the spring season: a three-run blast that helped Freeport rally from a six-run deficit in the seventh inning and beat Burrell, 8-6.
“That was definitely one to remember,” she said.
Then again, there was the one in the Yellowjackets’ WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal win over Waynesburg: a blast that hit the scoreboard at Plum.
“That one was pretty good, too,” she admitted.
As it happens, DeJidas has a handful she can choose from. The left-handed power bat slugged seven homers this year, to go along with a .622 average, four doubles, four triples and 26 RBIs. And she did it for a Yellowjackets team that posted an undefeated regular season, won the Section 1-3A title — their first since 2000 — and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals for the first time in a quarter-century.
Already drawing college attention for softball, DeJidas also starred as a hitter for Freeport’s state championship volleyball team.
It’s her work in the spring that makes her Valley News Dispatch Softball Player of the Year, with teammate Ashleigh Schmidt and Burrell’s Brittany Dunn also considered.
How do you feel about the overall season?
Definitely, this season was one to remember, making history. I think that we all worked really hard this year to make that happen, and then now it’s just giving us motivation for next year to get to that same goal, but not just to get there but to beat it.
What was it about this year’s team that lifted it to such a big year?
I think we all worked really well together, and we all helped each other. It didn’t matter who was doing what or who was in. We just performed, and that’s why we were so successful.
Are there any games that stick out most?
I think when we won the section, that was definitely a key thing when we beat Burrell for the second time. That definitely keyed us for section champs for sure.
Your team made a habit of great comebacks. Was there a favorite one?
The Burrell one, for sure. Honestly, we just went into it, passed the bat down the order. First person gets a hit, then the next person keeps following. That’s what we did and ended up scoring eight runs.
Your team had a lot of great hitters. Was there one who especially stood out?
I think we all equally were great. Everyone did their job when they needed to, and that was key.
You had a lot of experienced players. How much did that help?
Oh, it helped us a lot because there were five seniors and then two juniors. That’s the maturity of our roster there, and that really helped. We have great experience coming back, as well, even in underclassmen who played this year, as well.
How difficult was it to see the season end one win short of the state playoffs?
It was really difficult. Previous years have been pretty difficult, too, but this one definitely stung a little bit because we knew we were right there to our goal: making the WPIAL championship and even making the state bracket, too. That’s just giving us motivation for next year.
Have you already talked about next year’s goals?
For sure. Everyone was obviously really disappointed how the season ended, even though we were successful throughout. But the majority of our team is playing summer ball now, and that’s just preparing us for next season. We’ll start back in January again and do it all again.
What are you up to this summer?
I’m playing travel softball. I’m playing every weekend this summer besides this weekend.
Who are you playing for?
Pittsburgh Predators Gold.
Do you have a favorite homer from this season?
I would say the one that stuck out the most was the Burrell three-run homer. That was in our comeback game where we won 8-6. That was definitely one to remember.
What was the one off the scoreboard against Waynesburg like?
That one was pretty good, too. It’d be between those two.
Are you starting to look at colleges?
Yeah, I’ve had some coaches contact me, and I’ve gone on some visits. I plan to go on a few more soon, but I haven’t made my final decision yet.
Is that a dream for you?
For sure. Ever since I was young I’ve always watched college softball, and I’ve wanted to do that ever since.
Do you have a favorite college softball team?
Florida Gators for sure. I’ve always liked them since the beginning.
How about players?
Definitely (former Oklahoma star) Keilani Ricketts. She didn’t play for Florida, but she was one of my big role models and still is. She plays professionally now. She was a pitcher, but she was also a hitter, and I just loved watching her hit. She was a lefty like me, and I just loved watching her play.
What was it like getting to pitch this year?
This was my first year starting back. I haven’t pitched in about three years, but my team needed me to pitch. I stepped up and pitched. I liked it. It was fun, and whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do.
Do you have any softball superstitions?
I’m not super superstitious, but I always wear my same hat and then my same bow to all high school games.
How about the team?
I don’t think. I know previous year we did the rock where we all kissed a rock before, but not this year.
I hear preseason training includes things like tug-of-war. Who’s best at that?
Well, we get split up in teams, and there’s usually six girls on each team.
Who would be the top pick if you had captains?
Usually (senior) Jenna Manke, I feel like.
What do you do outside of softball?
I also play volleyball for the school. And I like to go bike riding, outside stuff, and just hang out with my teammates and my friends. But for the majority, softball takes up my life.
Do you have a favorite bike trail?
Just any trail, I just like to go out and bike, I guess. I also like going skiing in the winter. I went to Seven Springs skiing before. That’s where I usually go.
Do you have a summer job?
No, I really don’t have time, usually. I’m always at practice or a game. I would like it to have the extra money, but I just don’t know when I would do it. Maybe in the future I might, but I don’t know.
What was the last movie you saw?
“Adrift.” It was good. I went with one of my friends. We just went there right after softball practice in our softball clothes. There was probably less than 10 (people).
What would be your softball “walk-up song”?
That’s a hard question. I honestly have no idea. I listen to a lot of music. I like listening to country, rap and pop. I’m kind of wide range with that.
Favorite TV show?
“One Tree Hill.”
And who was your favorite character?
Probably the Scott brothers.
Three words to describe yourself?
Hard-working, humble and athletic.
What was the experience of winning the state title in volleyball like?
That was definitely an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Just winning the state championship, all the games going toward it, it was just an unforgettable experience. And I can’t be more thankful for that. Everything that’s happened since, from going to the state Capitol building a few weeks ago and even all the success in softball, it’s just been amazing. This whole year has been great.
First team all-stars
Kiski Area, Jr., Pitcher
A late-season perfect game against Gateway highlighted a strong season in the circle, where she racked up 10 wins, 138 strikeouts and a 2.25 ERA to help Kiski Area get back into the WPIAL playoffs and reach the Class 5A quarterfinals.
Riverview, So., catcher/pitcher
She provided power and speed, hitting .458 with six doubles, four triples, four homers and 13 RBIs for the WPIAL quarterfinalist Raiders. As the team’s No. 2 pitcher, she broke the single-game school record for strikeouts and finished the year with a 1.63 ERA and 54 strikeouts.
Burrell, Jr., catcher
A powerful, consistent bat out of the cleanup spot, Coffman hit .500 with a team-high five homers and 22 RBIs to help the Bucs reach the WPIAL quarterfinals for the second straight year. Strong arm behind the plate helped nab several would-be base stealers.
Burrell, Sr., Pitcher
In first season as Bucs’ primary pitcher, Pitt-Greensburg recruit went 11-4 with a 1.77 ERA and 110 strikeouts. She batted .463, with nine doubles, two homers and 15 RBIs, hitting a key homer in the Bucs’ first-round playoff win over McGuffey.
Riverview, Sr., pitcher
Simon Fraser recruit was Riverview’s top pitcher, striking out 90 in 65 1⁄3 innings to help Raiders tie for second in the section and reach the WPIAL quarterfinals. At the plate, she batted .468 with 19 RBIs.
Plum, so., shortstop
Defensive move from outfield to shortstop did little to affect St. Francis (Pa.) recruit’s bat, as she hit .432, with six doubles, four triples, four homers and 20 RBIs — leading the Mustangs in virtually every offensive category.
Leechburg, sr., Pitcher
Four-year starter in the circle helped Leechburg win its section and reach the WPIAL semis for the second straight year by going 13-5 with a 2.94 ERA and 99 strikeouts, finishing her career with 58 victories. She hit .408, with eight extra-base hits out of the leadoff spot.
Leechburg, So., first base
A starter since her freshman season, Reinke’s powerful bat provided a .532 batting average and a team-high seven homers and 32 RBIs for WPIAL semifinalist Blue Devils.
Freeport, sr., second base/pitcher
She batted .472, with six doubles, two triples and two homers out of the leadoff spot to help Freeport win Section 1-3A and reach the WPIAL semifinals. Pitching primarily in relief, she went 9-0 with a 1.21 ERA for a team that excelled in comebacks.
St. Joseph, sr., third base/pitcher
Franciscan recruit’s big bat led the Spartans to the WPIAL quarterfinals for the second straight season by hitting .636, with two homers and 24 RBIs. She also picked up four wins and a save as the Spartans’ No. 2 pitcher.
SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS
Katelynn Blair, Deer Lakes, sr., 1B
Maya Borghol, Freeport, fr., OF
Krystyna Burdelski, Fox Chapel, sr., SS/P
Kassandra Cessna, Kiski Area, fr., OF
Mollie Charlton, Apollo-Ridge, jr., P
Serena Edgar, St. Joseph, sr., SS
Kristen Knapp, Leechburg, jr., C
Tori Radvan, Freeport, so., P
Kayla Santucci, Burrell, jr., 2B
Kelsey Sofaly, Kiski Area, sr., OF