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Diamond is mom-daughters’ best friend

Seneca Valley softball coach Marlesse Hames is flanked by her daughters, Lexie, left, and Meah prior to a recent game. John Enrietto/Butler Eagle
Family bonding in softball

JACKSON TWP — Forget about doll houses or playing dress-up.

Meah and Lexie Hames grew up swinging a bat and wearing a glove, playing organized softball since the age of 8. Now they are a sophomore and freshman, respectively, at Seneca Valley High School and are in the Raiders’ starting lineup.

Their mother doesn’t mind a bit.

She’s their coach, after all — and was a pretty good softball player in her own right.

Marlesse Schlott-Hames starred on the 1992 Seneca Valley softball team that won the WPIAL championship and advanced to the state finals. That team is being inducted into the high school’s athletic Hall of Fame this year.

“This will be my sixth Hall of Fame,” said Hames, who was also a standout basketball player in high school.

Her daughters were never pushed into softball. They developed a love for the game on their own, she said.

“I love it. I’m happy that they’ve taken an interest in something that’s played such a big part in my life,” Hames said. “My husband (Chase Hames) and I had the girls try all kinds of different things when they were little. We wanted them to develop their own interests.

“Softball is certainly one of them. That’s the game they took to. They love being out on that field.”

And Mom has been with them every step of the way.

“I’ve coached them at every level since they started,” Hames said. “We’ve enjoyed the time together. Every now and then, I try to take them to a place like Dave and Busters, so we can just hang out together, do something different for a change.”

While they appreciate the effort, Meah and Lexie accept the family for what it is — and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’re a softball family,” Meah said. “That’s what we do.”

“Dinner conversation, whatever ... It’s softball,” Lexie said. “Having that common interest has kept us close for a long time.”

Meah plays first base for Seneca Valley. She also rides horses competitively. Lexie is a pitcher-first baseman and has already hit 10 home runs as a freshman this season.

Over the years, both girls have played travel softball during the summer. Meah isn’t playing this summer, but Lexie plays for a national travel team — the Beverly Bandits — based out of Chicago. That team will be making trips to Florida, California, Wisconsin and Indiana, among other states, this summer.

Meah will be involved in some horse riding events.

“They keep us hopping,” Hames said. “Being a school teacher, I have the summer off, so we basically spend it making road trips. We travel by car most of the time. It adds to the together time.”

Other coaches work with her daughters during travel softball. This is Hames’ first year as Seneca Valley varsity head coach. She has her varsity assistants — Brenna Cosgrove and Joe DeCristoforo — work with her daughters while she works with the rest of the team.

“I wanted them coached by someone besides me,” Hames said.

“It’s working out well,” Meah said. “We learn a lot from our mother, but you learn different things working with somebody else.

“When you’re the coach’s kid, you have to work that much harder to prove yourself.”

Hames smiled when asked about any issues that have arisen coaching her daughters.

“None, honestly,” she said. “I’ve always been harder on my own girls. Anything they’ve gotten, they’ve earned.”

They hope to earn more.

“Mom doesn’t talk about it much, but I know what she accomplished as a player,” Lexie said. “I want to do some of those same things, experience the kind of success she did. That’s always been something to shoot for.

“We’ve loved having her as our coach. She taught us the game.”

Mom’s enjoyed that process as well.

“I wouldn’t trade a second of it,” she said of the years of softball spent with her daughters. “So many memories. They’re precious to us.”

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