Alex Brasky | @BataviasBestHS
Saturday, April 14, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
Here is a brief preview of the 2018 HS Softball season:
Alexander Trojans (GR)
Season Outlook: Alexander is coming off of an 8-10 season, but return plenty of experience throughout their lineup. Although they’re not a senior-laden bunch, they hope that their experience on the field will help them win big games throughout the upcoming year.
Key Players: Lindsay Czechowski (OF) – Lindsay batted .491 a season ago from the leadoff spot, and will return to that role this season. She is also a solid defender who can play all three outfield positions. ; Madison Bykowski (IF) – Madison will take on increased responsibility for the Trojans this year, and will be called upon to drive in runs from the middle of the lineup. She also provides excellent defense at second base.; Samantha Sawyer (P) – Samantha will be the top-pitcher for the Trojans this season after making the jump from Attica where she played last year as a seventh grader. For the Devils in 2017, Sawyer finished with a 14-7 record.
Coach’s Quote: “We are very excited for the season to start,” said Alexander HC Dan Prong. “We are very experienced with the possibility of only having one starter this year being a first year varsity player. I hope with that experience, the girls will feel a little bit more comfortable as things come their way. I think you look at the GR and you see that it is very competitive. The teams that we have to play twice in our division could all come out and beat you on any given day.”
Batavia Blue Devils (MC)
Season Outlook: After falling just short of a sectional title in 2017, the expectations are high for Batavia this season. Despite entering the season under new leadership, the Devils return several key players to their lineup and will likely maintain their success within Class A2.
Key Players: Taylor Stefaniak (SS) – Taylor will anchor a solid defensive group, while also providing pop at the top of the Devils’ lineup.; Ryann Stefaniak (3B) – Ryann is another solid Batavia infielder who will provide a spark to the lineup with her bat, as well as her speed.; Bri Janes (C) – Bri is returning to her natural position defensively this year, and is also ready to provide power for a fierce Blue Devils’ lineup.; Maiya Reinhart (OF/1B) – Maiya is another Blue Devils’ power hitter who hopes to rack up the extra base hits and RBI this season.
Coach’s Quote: “”If our pitching holds up, we hope to be able to compete with anyone this season,” said first year head coach Jim Fazio. “(That being said) we will have to play solid defense and put some runs on the board against a difficult set of opponents.”
Byron-Bergen Bees (GR)
Season Outlook: Despite finishing with a sub-par record last season, the Bees seemed to take a step forward – as they began to compete with the upper-echelon teams in the GR League. This year I expect Byron-Bergen to continue to advance their strength as a program.
Key Players: Becca Velasco (UTIL) – Becca can play all over the field, while also possessing a quality bat.; Dana VanValkenburg (CF) – Dana will be counted on to cover as much ground as possible in the outfield this year. Her range ranks up their amongst the best outfielders in the league.; Kelsey Fuller (2B/1B) – Kelsey has been preparing at both second and first base this season. She will do whatever it takes to help the team.
Coach’s Quote: “These girls collectively have been working extremely hard in the preseason and I am extremely proud of them for that,” said B-B head coach Mariah LaSpina. “This team has so much potential and I want every single girl on the team to know and believe they are essential to the success of the program.“
Cal-Mum Red Raiders (LC)
Season Outlook: Despite falling to Bishop Kearney in the Class C2 Finals, 2017 was another successful year for Cal-Mum (20-4). This season, although they said goodbye to a few key players during the offseason, their lineup will remain potent this season. I expect the Raiders to make another run at title.
Key Players: Makenzie Wilson (SS) – Makenzie batted .333 last season while scoring 37 runs. Her offense, along with her defense, will be mighty important for C-M this year. ; Meghan Mietlicki (C) – Serving as the Raiders’ backstop once again this season, Meghan hopes to improve following her breakout season. She batted .403 while knocking home 35 runs a year ago.; Andrea Coyle (OF) – Andrea is another middle of the lineup contributor for C-M. She hit .361 with 30 RBI and 27 runs scored in 2017.; Grace Walker (3B) – Grace hit .437 with 35 runs scored a season ago. She is another key member of this Raiders lineup.; Hannah Rubinrott (P) – Hannah is entering her second year as C-M’s starter in the circle. In 2017 she finished with 17 wins while striking out 102 batters in 135 innings pitched.
Coach’s Quote: “This year will be interesting for us,” said C-M head coach Dan Dickens. “The league is really tough as all the teams in our division have quality pitching and return many players. We are going to need the four new girls to step up and be able to play in a tough league.”
Elba Lancers (GR)
Season Outlook: Elba, coming off of a Section V Title run last year, is another team under new leadership this season. They lost a bit from last season, but have also retained quite a bit which should allow them to respectably defend their title.
Key Players: Madison Howard (SS) – Madison is almost fully healthy following a knee injury in the offseason, but should be at full-strength come midseason. She batted .521 last year and will be a key force in the middle of the Lancers’ lineup.; Lauryn Engle (C) – Lauryn knocked home 16 RBI last year and will be another important piece for the Elba offense.; Kallie Totten (P) – Kallie will take over in the circle this season hoping to fill the void left by the departure of the Lancers’ longtime starter.
Coach’s Quote: “I’m excited for this upcoming season and am grateful for the opportunity to take over a program with such a rich tradition.” said first-year Elba head coach Regis Pollard. “We have a young group of girls this year but that’s not going to be an excuse for us. We’re athletic and expect to compete, while representing our school and community in a positive way.”
Holley Hawks (GR)
Season Outlook: Holley posted a 5-14 record last year but have a good group returning this year which could further the program’s success.
Key Players: Madison Papaj (3B) – Madison is a two-time GR League All-Star, and will lead the Hawks this season.; Madison Marsh, Madison Day, Kassandra Norman (P) – All three are set to spend time in the circle this season.; Jocelyn Chilton (C) – Jocelyn will be the team’s backstop, and will have to deal with several different hurlers – making her job a difficult one.
Coach’s Quote: “We are looking forward to a successful season,” said Holley head coach Amy Ostrom. “(We are) looking to improve (our) record from last year, as this team has seasoned seniors on it. Most have played for me since they were in seventh grade.“
Le Roy Oatkan Knights (LC)
Season Outlook: Le Roy was a team on the rise a season ago, waiting for their breakout campaign. With added experience up and down the lineup of what is still a fairly young team, I expect them to take a step forward towards competing for a Section V Championship this year.
Key Players: Erin Cappotelli (SS) – Erin is a five-year varsity starter and a three-time LCAA All-Star. Her ability both offensively and defensively will be key for this team.; Abby Dambra (C) – Abby is a four-year varsity starter and two-time LCAA All-Star, and another important piece for the Knights. ; Hayley Papp (P) – Hayley stepped in as the team’s number one pitcher a season ago and performed well. This year, she will be asked for even more as she continues to grow as a young hurler.
Coach’s Quote: “With such an experienced roster, we should be able to compete with any team we get on the field with,” said LR head coach Mike Battaglia. “This team has had the best offseason in my six years as coach, and I’m excited to see the results when we get on the field. In LCAA Division II, Cal-Mum and Warsaw are loaded, and will present tough challenges. Avon looks to be much improved, and Letchworth is always a tough opponent. Our goal is to compete at a high level every game out, and be playing our best softball come sectionals.“
Lyndonville Tigers (GR)
Season Outlook: Lyndonville won the Class D1 Championship last year and welcome back much of what drove them to such great heights. I expect they will again challenge for a GR League, and Section V Title.
Key Players: Miranda Lembcke (C); Anna Lewis (OF); Alecia Hinkson (OF); Stacy Buckland (P)
Coach’s Quote: “We have a good group of girls returning,” said Lyndonville head coach Joe Moore. “However, I feel as though we are still young, especially in regards to knowledge of the game. The players need to improve on that. There are a good number of girls returning and they really work hard together.“
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (GR)
Season Outlook: The Irish finished 2017 with a 7-12 overall record, but are looking for more under new leadership this season.
Key Players: Abby Pingrey (P) – Abby is one of ND’s two returning pitchers. She hopes to help her team limit opponents this year.; Audrey Farrell (P) – Audrey is the other Irish hurler, and also hopes to propel her team to an improved record in 2018.; Anna Kabel (3B) – Anna will be counted on to provide big hits, and quality defense at third. She is one of the team’s two team captains.; Emily Keeler (OF) – Emily is another Irish captain, and will help solidify the outfield along with her sister Kimmy Keeler (OF).
Coach’s Quote: “We continue to work hard on fundamentals, and if we remain focused on the daily improvements the results will take care of themselves,” said first-year ND head coach Tim Frappa. “We are a young team that works very hard and wants to compete at the highest level. With that type of attitude, (we should) do very well.”
Oakfield/Elba Hornets (GR)
Season Outlook: The Hornets finished 13-5 last season during a year in which they won the GR League Division I Title. I am anticipating even more success for the Hornets this year.
Key Players: Madi LaGrou (P) – Madi was one of the best pitchers in the GR League last season (GR All-Star) and returns after posting a 2.24 ERA with 102 strikeouts last year. She also hit .524 at the plate.; Lauren Reding (3B) – Lauren was awarded GR Honorable Mention last year.; Justina Pruski (1B/OF), Alexa Cory (2B), Kylie Schlagenhauf (SS/OF), Serina Velletta(OF) – All other returners who will help lead the Hornets.
Coach’s Quote: “As a new coach I’m extremely lucky to start my softball coaching career with the group of girls I have on my roster this year,” said OA first-year head coach Mike Anderson. “With a ton of experience coming back this year, our expectations are high but we cannot assume good things will just happen. If we are going to be successful we need to be focused each and every day as well as work to improve day-in and day-out. Nothing is guaranteed or handed out in this league, so everyone must keep working hard and strive towards the goals that they, both as an individual and as a team, want to accomplish.“
Pavilion Golden Gophers (LC)
Season Outlook: Pavilion finished 2017 with a 4-12 overall record. This year they seem to be on the cusp of success.
Key Players: Elizabeth Penders (SS); Sarah Howden (OF); Katelyn Schroeder (OF)
Coach’s Quote: “The difference between the possible and impossible lies in a person’s determination,” said Pavilion head coach Michele Forti.
Pembroke Dragons (GR)
Season Outlook: The Dragons are a young team this year, but expect to grow as a group as the season progresses.
Key Players: Allie Schwerthoffer (P) – Allie will take over pitching duties for the Dragons. As an eighth grader, she must learn on the fly this season.; Haylee Luderman (SS) – Haylee is making the jump from C to SS this season.; Sarai-Lynn Dixon (C) – Sarai will be the backstop for Pembroke this year.
Coach’s Quote: “We are hoping to improve as the season progresses,” said Pembroke HC Ron Funke. “GR Division I looks to be very strong.“
Wheatland-Chili Wildcats (GR)
Key Players: Hannah Callaghan (SS) – A five-year starter, Hannah will be an important player for the Wildcats. Abby Callaghan (3rd) – Another five-year starter, Abby will hold the hot corner for the Wildcats this year.
Tune in all season long to our homepage, as well as @BataviasBestHS on Twitter for updates on the action.