The one-two punch for Paul VI softball

Posted: May 05, 2012

When Steph Heresniak was little, her parents took her ice skating at Rockefeller Center.

"When we got home, I said, 'Mom, I want to skate,' " Heresniak said. "She thought I meant figure skating. But I said, 'No, I want to play ice hockey.' "

Such was the beginning of an ice hockey career that has taken the Paul VI junior to places as far as Canada.

Power, she said, is an asset the sport provides her. It's a quality she has used at the plate as the Eagles' cleanup hitter in softball.

"Having that extra strength makes a difference," she said.

Brielle Pietrafesa, Paul VI's No. 3 hitter, suffered a high ankle sprain this basketball season that kept her sidelined for about six weeks.

"I just remember being so anxious to be back on the court," she said. "It made realize the importance of being patient."

That calm mind-set, Pietrafesa said, is something she has taken to the plate in softball - where, along with Heresniak - she is one half of a duo that has emerged as one of the top one-two punches in South Jersey softball.

Pietrafesa, a sophomore, sports a .547 batting average and a .911 slugging percentage with nine home runs, three triples, six doubles, and 30 RBIs.

Heresniak is batting .556 with an .861 slugging percentage. She has knocked in 40 runs to go with eight home runs, five triples, and eight doubles.

"It's one of the best 3-4s you'll probably find in the state of New Jersey right now," Paul VI coach Bob Swain said. "They are seeing the ball so much better from the beginning of the season to now. They've just been beating pitchers up."

The play of Pietrafesa, a shortstop, and Heresniak, a catcher, is a big reason that Paul VI is 11-4 and has won 10 of 11 games.

"The whole team is just coming together nicely," Swain said. "It's been fun to watch them improve as the year goes on."

While Pietrafesa and Heresniak come from different athletic backgrounds - and point to different reasons for why they've emerged this season - the two have formed a bond that aids each's success.

"Brielle is an amazing player," Heresniak said. "It's nice because she'll go up there and kill the ball and it kind of takes the pressure off me. It gives me confidence to go up there and do the same thing right behind her.

"That's kind of how the whole team has been working this year. Everyone has been able to do their jobs. We've all been able to feed off each other."

A big part of that process is the communication the two players have developed.

"We're constantly telling each other what we're seeing," Pietrafesa said. "At this point, a lot of pitchers will try to pitch both of us the same way. Before the game, we'll watch the pitcher and talk about what we need to do. And if I get out, I'll be able to tell Steph what to look for."

Communication, Swain said, has been a big plus for his entire team this season.

In fact, the only thing the coach can't seem to get across fully is just how impressive his Nos. 3 and 4 hitters have been.

"Both are just very good, coachable players," he said. "They've worked so hard over the course of the regular season. Obviously, they came in with high expectations and it's worked out well this season."


Contact Chris Melchiorre at rallysports@phillynews.com.

 

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