Avon Grove's Herion signs to play softball at West Chester University
By Steven Hoffman
If you want to know what Alyssa Herion has meant to the Avon Grove softball team during the last few seasons, consider a moment in the 2014 district title game against North Penn. Herion belted a 3-2 pitch for a two-run homer that propelled Avon Grove to a 4-2 win and earned the squad a berth in the state playoffs during a remarkable season. It's the kind of moment that transforms a good player into something more.
On a team filled with good players with high expectations, Herion is a leader. Not only does she provide a powerful bat to the heart of Avon Grove's lineup, she also plays catcher, the most demanding position on the field. In 2014, she was a First Team All-Ches-Mont League member and a Second Team All-State selection. She also holds Avon Grove's all-time home run record, with 14 in her career so far.
Avon Grove softball coach Julie Hatfield has grown accustomed to Herion's heroics during her two seasons guiding the team. She marvels at Herion's leadership on and off the field, not to mention how she hits and plays solid defense while catching Maggie Balint, one of the top pitchers in the state.
“My theory is that your pitcher is only as good as your catcher,” Hatfield explained. “[Alyssa's] confidence behind the plate is unbelievable. She is not OK with being mediocre.”
Numerous college programs saw a lot to like about Herion's play. On April 16, the Avon Grove senior signed to play for West Chester University's Division II softball program. She was surrounded by teammates, school district officials, and her family, including parents David and Lisa, and her brother, Aaron.
Hatfield, who has known Herion since she was 11 years old and playing on a travel ball squad, is proud of the long list of accomplishments that the standout catcher has to her credit because of natural ability and lots of hard work.
“When I think of Alyssa, I think of her determination and her grit. It's her heart,” explained Hatfield. “She produces on the field and off the field. She deserves all the recognition that she gets. I can't wait to see her play at the next level.”
Herion is in the midst of a fine senior season. According to the statistics on MaxPreps, a website dedicated to scholastic sports, as of the day of her signing, Herion was tied for second among Pennsylvania sluggers in Class AAAA with three home runs. She also was among the state's leaders with a .571 batting average and 12 runs batted in, translating to a robust slugging percentage of 1.142.
That kind of production is hardly a surprise to her coach.
“She has the raw talent, but she also has the work ethic,” Hatfield explained.
At the signing, Herion talked about how much she has enjoyed the experience of playing for Avon Grove. She is a four-year varsity player. The 2014 squad not only set a team record for wins, they also won the Ches-Mont League Championship and the PIAA District 1 Championship for the first time.
“It's been awesome having this team make history,” Herion explained.
The relationship between the team's two top players, Herion and Balint, is one of collaboration when they are working as pitcher and catcher, and competition when they are pushing each other to be the best that they can be.
“Maggie and I really push each other—it's a competition,” Herion said. “What we have is something special.”
Herion also credited Hatfield with helping the team make the most out of its potential during the last two seasons.
Herion is also a standout in the classroom, having earned honors in ninth grade and eleventh grade, high honors in tenth grade, and distinguished honors in her senior year. She said that she selected West Chester University in part because she wants to be able to focus more of her energies on her studies in the nursing program. Before she heads off to West Chester University, however, Herion still has some goals to achieve during the current softball season with Avon Grove. The team is currently 7-2 and appears to be in a strong position to repeat or exceed last year's playoff run.
“My hope is always a state championship,” Herion said.
Hatfield is proud to have Herion representing Avon Grove softball.
“Alyssa has the qualities and character to achieve great things,” Hatfield said. “As a senior captain and a huge contributor to this team, Alyssa's skills, work ethic and determination will surely guide her to success in her future endeavors.”