Offense rules, but pitching still key in area softball

Apr. 1—It sounds strange in a sport that's been predicated for so many years on pitching — and don't get it wrong, the girl in the circle is still quite important — but the days of 1-0, 26-inning games are long gone in high school softball.

This season will be no different, but the teams with outstanding pitchers — Central Mountain, Mifflinburg and Warrior Run — are the favorites in their respective Heartland Athletic Conference divisions.


Not much changes from last season. Central Mountain, Williamsport and Jersey Shore should battle for the title, and the rest of division has the firepower to contend if they can develop enough pitching.

Five of the six Division I teams qualified for their respective district playoffs, with Central Mountain and Jersey Shore winning district titles in District 6 Class 5A and District 4 Class 4A, respectively.

Wildcats junior Addalyn McKeague finished with a 1.56 ERA and struck out 179 hitters in 112 innings, and while senior Madison Hardy and her team-leading eight homers last season are back. Central Mountain also returns its top three hitters by batting average and top three run scorers from last year's team.

The Bulldogs finished 5-5 in the division last year, but caught fire at the right time, beating Selinsgrove and Shamokin for the district title. Their dynamic leadoff hitter, sophomore Dani Miller, returns at the top of the lineup, and Lynna Clark and Isabelle Engle split pitching duties a season ago.

Williamsport has the most to replace among the top contenders as both of its top pitchers graduated, but senior Abby Robertson (.377, 21 RBIs) returns to lead the offense.

Selinsgrove and Shikellamy should have little problems hitting the ball.

Senior third baseman Allison Beddall already owns all of the Selinsgrove power-hitting records, while sophomore Teagan Richter (.417 in 10 games) and senior Cassidy Shay (18 runs scored) all return to lead the offense. Senior Kiersten Dupert returns in the circle for the Seals. She went 8-3 in the back half of the season after starting the year 0-3.

Though the Braves graduated last year's Daily Item Player of the Year in catcher Reagan Wiest, there is plenty of firepower back for Shikellamy. Blaire Balestrini was a second-team all-state selection last year and already has 100 career hits. She hit .444 with 25 runs scored and 15 extra-base hits (four homers). Three other returning Braves — Kianah Lenner, Ella Oaks and Allison Minnier — hit better than .350.

Taylor Treas, who led the Braves in innings pitched last season, graduated, but both Lenner and Shanna Kimball saw time in the circle last season.

Danville struggled to four wins last season, but the Ironmen are another team that has plenty of offense. Their top two run producers — Dejah Jones and Breece Wilson — return, but a team ERA of 6.27 was Danville's downfall.


The presence of lefty Taylor Stewart in the circle gives Mifflinburg the advantage in Division II. The sophomore threw all 141 1/3 innings for the Wildcats last season as a freshman, and the Wildcats return every significant contributor except for catcher Evelyn Osborne, who plays at Lock Haven University. Sophomore Anna Pachucki scored 22 runs, and Stewart and junior Madison Fohringer tied for second in RBIs with 14 behind Osborne's team-high 21. More bad news for the rest of the division: these Wildcats have just one senior on the roster, third baseman Chelsea Miller.

Last year's District 4-4A runner-up Shamokin has the firepower to compete with the Wildcats both in HAC-II and in Class 4A. Emma Kurtz and Kennedy Petrovich are returning all-star selections. Kurtz, who spends the majority of her time in the circle, hit .424 and scored 13 runs. Petrovich already has 100 career hits. She batted .531 last year with seven doubles and 32 runs scored. Grace Parks also returns after ripping a team-best six homers a season ago.

Montoursville will also have a say in the division. Pitcher Mahlon Yonkin is in the circle for Pitt-Johnstown this season, but Natalie Bennett hit .448 last season and Kayleigh Sheleman returns after missing the final 12 games of her freshman year with an injury. She's already knocked in eight runs in the first three games of the Warriors' season.

Just two years removed from a PIAA Class 3A title game appearance, only one of the four Lewisburg sophomores that started in that game will play her senior softball season: Sydney Bolinsky. She was an all-state selection last year after hitting .358 with 16 runs and 17 RBIs.


Warrior Run has to replace all-stater Abby Evans — the team's top run producer with five homers and 22 RBIs — but her coach and father Mark Evans returns plenty of firepower to make another run in the district playoffs. The Defenders were the No. 6 seed a season ago, but finished as the district runner-up for a PIAA state playoff berth. Sophomores Laressa Hauck and Maura Woland, along with senior Kayla Swartchick, will key the offense. Swartchick was second on the Defenders with 21 RBIs, while Hauck knocked in 20 RBIs and played a key role as catcher. Woland packs a lot of punch in for a 5-foot second baseman, and was a captain of the basketball team.

Midd-West finished ahead of the Defenders in the HAC-III race a season ago, and finished second behind Loyalsock in the team race. The Mustangs lost leading power hitter Sara Shupp to graduation, but pitcher Miley Beachel and third basemen Storm Wilt were all-state selections a season ago. Wilt, who committed to play softball at Wilkes University, hit .365 with 14 runs scored last season. Beachel split time at pitcher and first base. She hit .426 with two homers, five doubles and 16 RBIs. In the circle, she was 4-2 with 75 strikeouts in 63 innings.

Southern Columbia has struggled the last few seasons, but is looking to its glory days to reviltilize the program. Back when she was Taylor Hoffman, new coach Taylor Motko was a three-time first-team all-Daily Item selection for the Tigers. As a freshman, she was a contributor on the 2013 team that made it to the PIAA Class A championship game.





Coach: Fred Caldwell

Last year: 16-4 overall, 9-1 HAC-I. District 6 5A champions. Lost to Shaler in first round of Class 5A playoffs

Roster: Adalynn McKeague, sr., P; Madisyn Wian, P-OF; Sophie Mitchell, sr., OF; Katelyn Bowman, jr., 3B; Harley Kunes, sr., OF; Madison Hardy, sr., C; Ava Doyle, sr., OF; Taylor Doyle, so., INF; Camdyn Weaver, fr., P.


Coach: Jamie Strausser

Last year: 4-15 overall, 1-9 HAC-I

Roster: Dejah Jones, sr., SS-OF; Cadence Shaffer, sr., 3B; Camryn Hess, sr., P-2B; Morgan Gerringer, jr., 2B-OF; Marleigh Davis, jr., 2B-OF; Michelle Stoltzfus, jr., 1B-DP; Breece Wilson, jr., C; Harper Hendrickson, jr., 1B-OF; Allison Stine, jr., P-1B-DP; Abby Haught, so., 3B-C; Jillian Lowe, so., P-3B-OF; Carly Bucher, so., 3B-OF; Brianna Blue, so., OF; Molly Johnson, so., C-OF; Ava Koser, so., 1B-OF-2B; Sydney Sharpe, fr., 2B-OF; Ariane Pichardo, fr., 3B-1B-OF; Claire Kretzing, fr., OF; Maclin Hickey, fr., RHP-1B; Cassie Shellenberger, fr., 2B-OF.


Coach: Chris Lorson

Last year: 14-10, 5-5 HAC-I. District 4 Class 4A champions

Roster: Jocelyn McCracken, sr., 3B; Kaitlyn Herman, sr., C; Emma Pfirman, sr., DP; Grace Russell, sr., 2B; Katelyn Stover, sr., OF; Jaymison Stellfox, sr., OF; Isabelle Engle, jr., P; Lynna Clark, so., P-3B; Dani Miller, so., SS; Lexi Frey, fr., 1B.


Coach: Jessica Chappell

Last year: 11-10 overall, 6-4 HAC-I. Lost to Montoursville in District 4 Class 4A semifinals

Roster: Cassidy Shay, sr., OF; Alison Beddall, sr., 3B; Grace Landis, sr., OF; Kiersten Dupert, sr., P; Darcy Reitenbach, sr., OF; Braylynn Derk, sr., 2B; Aubrei Hoyles, jr., OF-P; Maddison Burd, jr., 1B-P; Kate Varner, jr., P; Alyvia Herrold, so., SS; Teagan Richter, so., C; Danika Burd, fr., OF-INF;


Coach: Matt Slivinski

Last year: 11-11, 2-8 HAC-I. Beat Wallenpaupack in the District 2/4 Class 5A quarterfinals. Lost to Pittston, 14-5, in semifinals.

Roster: Blair Balestrini, sr., SS; Allison Minnier, sr., OF; Amelia Wary, sr., 3B; Shannen Sprenkel, sr., OF-P; Erin Sprenkel, sr., OF-INF; Sydney Sinko, jr., P-OF; Ella Oakes, jr., OF; Gwen Wiest, jr., 2B; Natalie Keller, jr., OF-INF; Aveya Stauffer, jr., OF-INF; Kianah Lenner, so., OF.


Coach: Chase Smith

Last year: 13-9 overall, 7-3 HAC-I. Beat Wilkes-Barre in District 2/4 Class 6A semifinals; lost to Hazleton, 5-4, in district championship game.

Roster: Emlyn Kinley, sr., OF-INF; Haley Stahl, sr., P-INF; Lili Cox, sr., OF; Addison Engel, sr., INF; Abby Robertson, sr., P; Emily McAnelly, jr., C; Tiana Williams, jr., OF; Chelsey Harrison, jr., OF; Bailey Livermore, jr., P-INF;



Coach: Duane Karchner

Last year: 14-7 overall, 6-4 HAC-II. Lost to Warrior Run in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

Roster: Payton Crawford, sr., C; Gracie Book, fr., OF-P; Ava Klingerman, jr., 2B; Macy Gearhart, jr., P; Landri Knowles, jr., OF; McKenna Jasinski, fr., P-3B; Gwen Erb, so., OF; Isabel Snyder, sr., P-OF; Lauren Brosious, so., INF; Alexis Knorr, jr., OF; Gabby Hashagen, jr., SS; Kadee Markle, so., OF-INF; Brynn Karnes, so. 1B


Coach: Ken Wagner

Last year: 8-12 overall, 3-7 HAC-II

Roster: Sydney Bolinsky, sr., SS-P; Makaila Huff, sr., 1B-3B; Kayla Pfleegor, sr., C-INF; Lucy Mitchell, jr., OF; Olivia Mahon, jr., OF; Jareilianys Rios, so., OF; Addy Shedleski, so., P-3B-1B; Herianne Pagan, so., 2B-C; Hayden Davis, so., OF; Siani Turner, so., OF; Brooke Leauber, fr., 1B; Nora Hockenbrock, fr., 2B-SS; Josie Gutkowski, fr., 2B-OF.


Coach: Ron Hernandez

Last year: 11-10 overall, 8-2 HAC-II. Lost to North-Penn Liberty in District 4 Class 3A semifinals

Roster: Chelsea Miller, sr., 3B-OF-P; Madison Fohringer, jr., INF-OF; Julia Martin, jr., OF; Olivia Fetterman, so., OF-INF; Chloe Showalter, so., C-OF; Lainey Miller, so., OF; Aubrey Fluman, so., 1B-C; Anna Pachucki, so., SS; Taylor Stewart, so., P; Maggie Ruebendall, fr., P-OF-INF; Rhyan Kurtz, fr., 1B-OF;


Coach: Taylor Batman

Last year: 0-18, 0-10 HAC-II

Roster: Adrianna Allabach, sr., OF; Paige Guffey, sr., OF-INF; Emily Heintzleman, sr., OF-INF; Sydney Nornhold, sr., OF; Alivia Winder, sr., P; Autumn Wolfgang, sr., C; Erin Hess, jr., INF; Bella Shupp, jr., P; Rylie Anspach, so., INF; Joshalyn Bobb, so., INF-OF; Trinity Cox, so., OF-INF; Carrie King, so., INF-OF; Emma King, so., INF-OF; Kiley Long, so., INF-OF.


Coach: Mikayla Arnold

Last year: 14-7 overall, 7-3 HAC-II. Lost to Jersey Shore in District 4 championship game.

Roster: Natalie Bennett, sr., OF; Kelly Friel, sr., C; Alexa Stahl, sr.,INF-OF; Jordan Chamberlain, jr., OF; Brynne Cory, jr., OF-INF; Liz Cory, jr., INF-OF; Avery Cozzi, jr., 1B; Neveah Montoya, jr., 3B; Jillian Stone, jr., OF; Emily George, so., SS; Kayleigh Sheleman, so., 2B; Julie Friel, so., P; Lia Bozochovic, fr., OF.


Coach: Jared Petrovich

Last year: 10-8 overall, 7-3 HAC-II. Lost to Jersey Shore in district semifinals

Roster: Kennedy Petrovich, sr., SS; Emma Kurtz, sr., P-OF; Gabby Park, sr., OF; Nina Wik, sr., OF; Autumn Kehler, jr., 3B; Kendra Taylor, jr., OF-INF; Felica Zigner, jr., OF; Ava Bonshock, so., 2B; Ava Hughes, so., C; Liz Nye, fr., OF.



Coach: Joe Devine

Last year: 7-13, 5-5 HAC-III

Roster: Madeline Devine, sr., C; Katie Studebaker, sr., OF; Cassie McGinley, sr., OF; Jenna Lyon, jr., 2B-C; Mya Coyne, jr., OF; Cassidy Kashner, jr., OF; Taylor Bower, jr., OF; Cassidy Kashner, jr., OF; Lauren Ashworth, so., OF-P; Kara Bodganowicz, so., 3B-C; Hali Bower, so., 1B; Brianna Wasko, fr., P-3B;


Coach: Dave Dimhoff

Last year: 6-12 overall, 1-9 HAC-III

Roster: Tori Barto, sr., 1B; Loralie Bennett, sr.,P; Megan Bryant, sr., 1B; Madeline Miller, sr., OF; Ella Breneisen, jr., P; McKenna Sones, jr., OF-SS; Eve Breon, so., 2B; Lacey Forwood, so., OF; McKenna Gelnett, so., OF; Kiana Peck, so., C; Avery Puderbaugh, so., OF-C.


Coach: Mark Godfrey

Last year: 17-3 overall, 10-0 HAC-III

Roster: Shea Bower, sr., OF; Ava Damiano, sr., 3B; Bella Mileto, sr., OF; Kathryn Ray, sr., SS; Katie Ryder, sr., OF; Alexa Luxenberger, sr., 1B; Maddie Luxenberger, sr., C; Sofia Melito, jr., OF; Lydia Kreshock, so., P; Sophia Miller, so., P; Shyla Fulp, so., 2B


Coach: Pete Voss

Last year: 10-9 overall, 7-3 HAC-III.

Roster: Teagan Schreffler, sr., OF; Storm Wilt, sr., 3B-C; Grace Corkle, so., OF-INF; Mckennin Voss, sr., C-3B; Miley Beachel, jr., P-1B; Kady Wagner, so., OF-INF; Cali Sauer, so., OF; Rachel Keister, sr., SS; Emma Wagner, so., OF; Madi Swineford, so., OF-INF.


Coach: Taylor Motko

Last year: 4-15, 2-8 HAC-II

Roster: Brandi Pattern, sr., OF; Emily Reese, sr., 1B; Jenson Purnell, sr., C; Ella Podgurski, jr., 2B; Lily Konyar, jr., OF-P; Aubrey Miller, jr., 3B; Maddie Stiver, jr., OF-INF; Naudia Downs, so., OF-INF; Kailey Kieffer, so., OF-INF; Maddie Yost, so., P-SS; Vivien Miller, so., OF; Alana Reuter, so., P-1B; Madelyn Levan, so., INF-OF; Kylie Luck, so., OF-INF; Leah Fenstermach, fr., OF.


Coach: Mark Evans

Last year: 12-12 overall, 5-5 HAC-III. Lost to North Penn-Liberty in District 4 Class 3A championship game. Lost to Mid-Valley in first round of PIAA Tournament.

Roster: Liana Dion, sr., INF; Brooquelyn Dunkle, sr., INF; Meghan Rovenolt, sr., OF; Kayla Swartchick, sr., OF; Serenity Little, jr., INF-OF; Millie Gelnett, jr., OF; Maura Woland, so., INF; McKenna Forman, so., C; Mya Evans, so., INF; Ariana Dyer, so., C; Hanna Stevenson, so., OF; Summer Rovenolt, so., OF; Mackenzie Heyler, so., P; Jess Frey, so., INF-OF; Ella Printzenhoff, so., INF-OF; Lakesha Hauck, so., C; Lydia Keener, fr., P-INF; Makenzie Litchard, fr., P-INF; Rylee Reeder, fr., OF-INF-C; Caitlin Waltman, fr., P-INF; Ella Wertman, fr., INF-OF; Mackenzie Johnson, fr., INF-OF.