Rapp twins overcome spinal fusion surgeries to help Penn-Trafford softball to WPIAL final


Tuesday, May 31, 2022 | 4:27 p.m.

Maddy Rapp thought she might cause a scene when she walked through the metal detectors at Heinz Field in November when she watched her hometown Penn-Trafford Warriors play for a WPIAL football championship.

Her fraternal twin sister, McKenzie, saw a similar outcome going through the security arch.

They were surprised when the detector didn’t beep.

“With two steel rods and 16 screws in the back, you never know how things are going to turn out,” McKenzie Rapp said.

The softball siblings underwent spinal fusion surgery Sept. 23 at Children’s Hospital to repair progressively worsening scoliosis. Titanium rods and screws helped realign their spines and improve the curvature of each girl’s back.

“We didn’t want it to progress and get worse, especially with us going to college,” Maddy Rapp said. “They told us it would take six months to come back, but we came back in four. It was more a question of mentality. »

Returning to form, the Seniors helped the No. 2 seed Penn-Trafford (18-2) reach the WPIAL Class 5A Championship game. The Lady Warriors, who will make their debut in the finals, will face number 1 Armstrong (19-4) at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Lilley Field in California, Pennsylvania.

“They were doing physical therapy as soon as they were allowed out of bed,” Warriors lead pitcher Mia Smith said. “They bounced back quickly.”

Maddy is the catcher and McKenzie is a reserve pitcher.

The Rapps will play together in Geneva.

Scoliosis is common, but not everyone has surgery. The girls were diagnosed with it around the age of 8 during a routine examination.

“We were born two months premature, so maybe it has something to do with it,” McKenzie Rapp said. “The high school prom really helped us come back because we were working every day.”

Neither girl has had any issues since returning, whether it’s throwing, hitting or crouching behind home plate.

“My shoulder was out of place before, but it’s more aligned now,” said Maddy Rapp. “Our mom (Christine) is a physical therapist, so that really helped.”

Warriors coach Denny Little appreciates the twins’ leadership on and off the field.

“They’re like mom girls,” Little said. “It is the harassing mothers who watch over the daughters. They play extremely important roles in this team. It’s amazing to see them come back the way they did. They underwent major surgery.

During a practice this week, Maddy Rapp paused during an interview in the dugout to make sure a team-mate was okay.

“I have to watch my girls,” she said.

Little remembers the Rapps hanging around a Harrison City Heat youth baseball team he coached.

“It was the little sisters hanging around, playing in the dirt,” Little said. “My daughter, Emma, ​​was there too. Later, we formed a Heat softball program, and they started playing there. Their dad, Brian, said he was going to make him a pitcher and catcher.

“They all come back to the high school prom together.”

Maddy Rapp is hitting .378 with four home runs and 12 RBIs.

“She’s on the same page as Mia,” Little said.

She is also the travel ball catcher for Smith.

“They’re, as Justin Timberlake says, simpatico,” Little said. “Maddy beats is a bonus. She works extremely hard.

Rapp pitched more last year, but accepted a bullpen role with strong pitcher Smith, a commitment from Pitt-Johnstown, entering his first high school.

“With McKenzie, I know I can go for her,” Little said. “I know she will be ready.”

Little says the Rapps bicker like sisters are supposed to.

“I have to separate them sometimes,” he said. “It’s funny.”

McKenzie Rapp said, “Sometimes when I throw, she comes to the mound and puts me in my place.”

While the Rapps were freshmen and won medals in 2019 when Penn-Trafford captured a PIAA championship, they are focused on their role in helping the Warriors win their first WPIAL title.

“It’s about being focused when we come in,” McKenzie Rapp said. “Both teams are good. The team that shows up that day will win.

Bill Beckner Jr. is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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