Harry S Truman finishes 2015 campaign on a tear

LEVITTOWN — They say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

If that’s true, then the Truman softball team wrapped up a good season on Tuesday afternoon, winning its sixth game in its last seven tries.

“We won our first game 10-nothing but then we struggled after that,’ admitted Lady Tigers head coach Kyle Hoffman. “After a lot of defensive changes and working on some things in practice, the girls just really pulled it together in the last couple of weeks.’

Coming off a mercy-ruled loss to Neshaminy the day before, Truman rebounded in the last game of the regular season with a 7-4 triumph over Suburban One National League rival Bensalem. The win over the Owls avenges an earlier season loss to Bensalem.

On Senior Day, the Tigers received multiple hits from seniors Jess O’Brien, Tori Ahleman and Ashley Foley. Centerfielder Stephanie Wolf, a sophomore, also recorded multiple hits in the game.

In the circle, senior righthander Jess O’Neil tossed a four-hitter, striking out six batters and walking none. The win over the Owls pushed Truman to 8-11 overall, 5-8 in the SOL National Conference.

Before the 10-0 loss to the Skins, Truman had not lost a contest in the month of May. Earlier this month, the Tigers emerged with wins over Pennridge (2-0), Pennsbury (3-1), Abington (8-5) and Bristol (5-4). Add in a late-April win over William Tennent and that’s victories in six out of seven games.

“We had some young players in and they all just pulled together; they were communicating well,’ explained Hoffman. “We went up to Pennridge and got the win there, then got a huge win over Pennsbury and we just continued on from there.

“The win over Abington was very exciting. Then Bristol, with it being a fundraiser game and for a senior (Ali Stewart) here at our school who is very close friends with a lot of the (players) — it was definitely a big win for them.’

The triumph over Bristol was big. In a contest that took place May 7 under the lights at the Borough’s Memorial ballfields, the Tigers walked off with a dramatic 5-4 victory. Trailing the Lady Warriors 4-3 in the seventh, Wolf hit a double down the left field line that scored junior Kelsey Hackbart and Ahleman.

But that’s not how the season started. Trapped in an early-season slump, Truman was getting outscored by an average margin of 7-3. Pitching was not the problem, the coach said.

“Jess (O’Neil) was pitching well; she didn’t give up very many earned runs,’ said Hoffman. “We were beating ourselves.’

Unfortunately, miscues in the field doomed Truman to its slow start. There was three errors in a 10-2 early season loss to Council Rock South and five more in a 10-7 ensuing loss to Hatboro-Horsham. At one point, Hoffman says the team was averaging six errors per contest.

Once the defensive changes were made, the Tigers’ hard work in practice started showing through in the win column. Unfortunately, Hoffman’s not sure how much the strong finish will help with the team’s start next spring.

That’s because, with graduation, Truman waves goodbye to O’Neil, Foley, Ahleman and O’Brien. The first two are the Tigers’ battery-mates.

“I don’t know how much (the strong finish) will play into our start next year,’ stated Hoffman. “It may give the girls a lot of confidence coming back, knowing that they can play with these teams in our league.

“But we’re losing four starters including our pitcher and catcher so that’s going to be tough to bounce back from.’

Coming up from junior varsity to help out in the circle next season will be freshman Olivia Bonelli and junior Maureen Wadsworth. Hackbart will most likely go back to her spot at shortstop and freshman Sarah Soltis — who played the last three weeks on varsity — will return to second base.

“We pulled her up from JV three weeks ago and she’s started every game since,’ said Hoffman, of Soltis.

“She’s made almost every play on every ball hit to her.’

Another JV player — Madeline Pacheco — also put in some valuable varsity innings in right field.


A former assistant with the Tigers softball program, Hoffman returned to Truman after taking a year off. She also has previous coaching experience with the Middletown Mystics.

The season behind her, Hoffman says her first year coaching high school ball was enjoyable. She relished the fact that former head coach Gretchen Cammiso stayed on as her assistant.

“Coming in and having Coach Cammiso as my assistant was huge,’ said Hoffman. “It’s essentially like having two head coaches out there every game.’


The pitcher for the last three seasons, O’Neil is headed to Georgian Court University in the fall. Hoffman says the team will probably go with more of a rotation for next year.

NOTES: Stewart appears to be on the road to recovery. According to Hoffman, she was recently released from the hospital and was able to attend the May 7 duel between Truman and Bristol.

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