NEW CASTLE —
Neshannock High junior second baseman Marissa DeMatteo is a really good softball player.
Veteran Lady Lancers coach Tracy Kimmel believes she’s more than that.
“She’s one of the better players in the state,” Kimmel said. “That might be going out there a little bit, but she really is. She’s just a terrific ballplayer. She has all the tools. Her arm is lights out.
“I’m glad she’s on my team.”
Kimmel has no qualms about the praise going to DeMatteo’s head.
“She’s very humble,” he said. “She realizes she’s been given a lot of ability, but she’s a hard worker. She does a lot with her dad. That’s how you get good. If you put the time and effort into it, you’re probably going to get good and she has.”
EARNING THE NOD
DeMatteo opened the PIAA Class A playoffs by scoring three runs on two singles and a double in an 11-1 victory over Smethport at North Allegheny on June 2.
In the Lady Lancers’ next game, DeMatteo scored three times on a triple, a single and two walks in a 6-1 PIAA quarterfinal-round win over Burgettstown on Thursday. Defensively, she had four putouts and three assists.
The performances earned her Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
“I was in a bit of a slump in the earlier playoff games,” DeMatteo said. “I just focused on good pitch selection and swinging at good pitches. That helped a lot.
“I was getting frustrated, but I just kept working with my dad. He’d take me hitting. I learned to relax in the box and it helped out a lot.”
So has the slap.
DeMatteo has used the slap approach to her advantage over and over again this spring.
“When I’m up there at first, I like to slap,” she said. “I think that helps me see the ball better. After I run through a few, I can sit in there and hit, because I’ve seen the ball and I’ve seen good pitches.
“I feel with the slap they don’t know what you’re going to do. It keeps them off-guard. It helps me get out of the box quicker, so I can get to first base even quicker.”
Kimmel has watched his protégé become a stronger hitter over the past three years.
“A couple years ago, she was more of a slapper or a bunter just to get on base,” he said. “She’s become a little more of a power threat. She’s a pretty strong girl and can put a pretty good bat on the ball.”
Once she makes contact, DeMatteo has the speed to extend plays.
“Her baserunning is second to none,” Kimmel said. “She’s a lights-out base runner. That’s a big part of her game. Once she gets on base, she’s looking to move around the bases.”
DeMatteo’s speed and aggressiveness on the base paths is a bonus for the Lady Lancers.
“It helps, because I can get an extra base a lot of the time,” she said. “I can turn a single into a double and a double into a triple. It helps to get me around and I can depend on my teammates to get me in.”