Alderson a big hit with Chartiers-Houston softball

Tricia Alderson

When she was a young, hopeful youth softball player, Tricia Alderson could not always hit her target.

That changed quickly.

Since then, her softball career as a player and now as a coach has hit the mark.

Alderson’s success has been reached through an incredible work ethic, commitment, spirit, will, sacrifice and love of the game.

“I always loved baseball because my brother played, and my dad coached his teams,” the former Tricia Fabian said. “My dad also played slow pitch and fastpitch softball, so I just developed an interest. (He) taught me how to keep score at a really young age, and I just always loved the game. I was around a ballfield a lot growing up. I played T-ball when I was very young and started playing slow pitch softball around age 8 or 9. There wasn’t any fastpitch at that age around here when I was growing up.

“I remember being a decent to above average player when I was young and playing slow pitch. I practiced with my dad to get better so that I could make all-stars and start on my teams. When I first started pitching, I struggled some, but I was determined to do it. I put dents in the siding at my house because I threw to a cinder block wall and missed the target sometimes when doing my drills. If I threw a wild pitch when my dad was catching me in the backyard, he made me run into the neighbors’ yards to get it. I got tired of doing that, so I became a lot more accurate.”

She became a lot more than that.

Alderson became known as “The Queen of No-Hitters’” as a legendary pitcher at Chartiers-Houston High School. She’s the Queen of high school softball in Washington and Greene County – an iconic figure in the WPIAL and PIAA.

She’s proud of her softball footprint, but she only grudgingly will talk about or even acknowledge it. Her focus is the now and the future.

“The individual success was great, but I didn’t really like all of the attention a whole lot. I always loved competition and liked the challenge that each season brought to me and to our team,” she said. “My work ethic helped to make me successful as well as very supportive parents. I practiced a lot because I wanted to be the best and help the team win as much as I could.”

Dominant run

Alderson’s freshman season was going well team-wise, and head coach Dan Ross said he was set with his lineup. As the season wore on and the WPIAL playoffs were in sight, Ross discovered something.

He watched Alderson pitch on the side and saw the skill level and the potential. Ross inserted Alderson as the Bucs’ starting pitcher. She was a catalyst in Chartiers-Houston’s playoff march.

“I knew she put a lot of work in,” Ross said. “(Her father) Dick Fabian was one of my assistant coaches and I know he put so much time in with her.

“Tricia had great movement on the ball. She had a great changeup. And she could put it by you. Tricia just had great command and placement.”

Alderson said it was Ross who asked her if she wanted to learn to pitch.

“I honestly don’t know for sure,” she said. “Mr. Ross asked me in 8th grade if I wanted to learn to pitch and mentioned a pitching clinic that was in the winter. I think he knew I was athletic and could probably pick it up fairly quickly, so I did attend the clinic that winter and the winter of my freshman year.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I played some varsity in the infield, but I was not an everyday starter, which I was not too happy about. So, I kept working on my own and practicing, pitching at home thinking that maybe I would get to play more as a sophomore. I didn’t want to continue to sit on the bench, so I figured I needed to get really good in order to play and that pitching was probably my best opportunity to get on the field.

“I would stay after practice to pitch on my own with my dad,” she continued. “Actually, most people didn’t even know I pitched, and I really didn’t want to show my pitching until I felt I was good enough for people to see me do it. One day fairly late in the season, Mr. Ross just happened to see me pitch after practice, and then he started to put me in some games. I became the everyday starter late in my freshman year and into the playoffs that season.”

The rest is history.

The Bucs qualified for the playoffs all four years and captured section championships each season. They won WPIAL titles in 1987 and 1988 and were PIAA runnersup in ’87, losing to Minersville in the finals.

Chartiers-Houston was upended in the PIAA quarterfinals in 1988, making it a difficult end to the four-year run.

Alderson had made her mark.

In her four-year career she:

  • Posted a 77-7 career record, a .917 winning percentage
  • Threw 13 no-hitters, 10 one-hitters and 12 two-hitters
  • Had an earned run average of 0.43
  • Pitched a perfect game
  • Struck out 519 batters
  • Shut out 30 teams
  • Batted .382
  • Graduated with a 3.97 GPA

“Tricia put fast-pitch softball on the map in this area,” Ross said. “She had a great work-ethic and commitment to what she was doing.

“I know this sounds cliche, but I honestly never thought about the no-hitters or the strikeouts,” Alderson said. “The bottom line for me was winning the game and trying to win championships. It meant everything to me to represent our school, win championships, and make it to the state finals.”

Alderson earned a scholarship to the University of Charleston, WV. She played there from 1988 through 1992.

She was a first-team West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference pitcher for the Bobcats and graduated as their top scholar-athlete.

“I would have to say my greatest accomplishment as a player was being able to be a part of such a great team and helping to put Chartiers-Houston on the map through our softball team,” she said.

Family, coaching, sacrifice

Alderson succeeded Ross as coach at Chartiers-Houston.

The two have led the Bucs to 40 WPIAL playoff appearances in the past 41 seasons. Ross won 384 games at Chartiers-Houston. Alderson has won 304 in 17 seasons – she started coaching there in 2004 – and has an inexperienced Bucs’ team in line for postseason play with nine wins in 14 games overall and 6-3 in Section 1-AA heading into a non-section game Tuesday at Laurel Highlands. Chartiers-Houston has won three straight and six of seven.

Before returning to her alma mater, Alderson coached five seasons at Mt. Lebanon, where she led the Blue Devils to five playoff appearances, 81 victories and three section titles.

“After losing in the state finals as a junior and not making it back as a senior, I knew the only way I could ever get back there was to stay involved in the game as a coach. So coaching softball was always in the back of my mind. I was fortunate enough to land a permanent sub teaching job at Mt. Lebanon and they needed an assistant softball coach. The head job came open, I applied, and they took a chance on me as a young woman with no head coaching experience.”

Her tenure at Chartiers-Houston has been magical. After her first season, the Bucs won three consecutive WPIAL championships and were state runnersup in 2005.

In 2010, her husband Dan – who had a distinguished baseball playing and coaching career at the school – joined her as an assistant. While the Bucs lost in the WPIAL finals that year, the Aldersons steered the team to a PIAA crown.

Both are inductees of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Washington-Greene Co. Chapter.

“Coaching against them is special,” said Bill Simms, head coach and leader of an outstanding program at West Greene. “Tricia has built the model program. We’ve competed against them. You want to model your program just like Chartiers-Houston’s.

“They start early in the year with the high school and travel programs. They invest everything they have into them, totally committed. She has helped develop so many pitchers because of her expertise and love of teaching.”

In all, Tricia Alderson has led the Bucs to five WPIAL titles, the state title in 2010, 16 consecutive playoff appearances – soon to be 17 – eight WPIAL championship games, 13 WPIAL semifinals and 11 section crowns.

She has a career coaching record of 385-123, a .758 winning percentage.

“(Tricia) has been amazing,” husband Dan said. “This year, what she has done is unbelievable.”

It’s been a nice and somewhat unexpected bounce back from a difficult 2020 season that was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It cost the Aldersons daughter, Kaci, her senior season and the Bucs a potential run at another WPIAL crown or more.

Kaci has since moved on to a scholarship at Mercyhurst and is playing there as a freshman. Mom and Dad see as many games as possible. The couple has another daughter, Kelli.

“Not having a season in 2020 was heartbreaking and devastating for our entire family as well as our softball team,” Tricia Alderson said. “We thought we had a chance to have another great year, and obviously watching your daughter miss out on her senior season was hard. The silver lining was we did get to spend a lot of time together as a family while at home before she went to college.

“It’s hard because I think about everything she lost out on her senior season, and it does make me a little bitter at times. I just try to look at the big picture and realize that there are worse things that could have happened.”

Kurt Kesneck, athletic director at Chartiers-Houston, said “nobody puts as much time into their programs as Tricia and Dan.”

“There’s nothing they won’t do in terms of work and quality time to improve our program, our team and our players,” Kesneck added. “It’s nothing short of amazing. Tricia has a passion and understanding of the game that is uncommon. The family gives everything to the sport.

“Before a game, she’s still like a player. She’s always ready to go and prepared. They scout, they know the players and they have our players ready.”

Tricia Alderson helped build and continues to grow a special program right at home.

“Coming back to coach here was an amazing opportunity for me,” she said. “Not only was I able to be closer to home and to my family once Dan and I had kids, but also I was so lucky to have followed in Dan Ross’ footsteps and the program that he built. We have just tried to continue the great tradition here for softball, and it is important to me to keep that all going. I want my teams to have the same positive experiences that so many of us have had as players here.”

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