EXCLUSIVE: Softball Season Preview Capsules

Softball

Northwestern

Coach: Jen Horner (13th season, 173-110).

Last year: 6-14 overall, 4-12 CL.

Top returners: So. Lydia Danner, Jr. Emily Bennett, Jr. Sunny Greenberg, Sr. Erynn Day, Sr. Kylee Bennett, Sr. Callie Rehrig, Sr. Morgan Cleary.

Key newcomers: So. Claire O’Dea, So. Caitlyn Bowers, So. Alyssa Rodda, So. Morgan Billig, So. Ellen Smith, Fr. Brooke Wehr, Fr. Avery George.

Outlook: Long time Northwestern head coach Jen Horner is back at the helm for the Lady Tigers. She is looking to turn around a team that is returning a lot of talent all around the diamond. She notes their impressive work ethic as a unit and that their infielders are new, but improving. Her experience mixed with the talent may elevate Northwestern to the top.

Parkland

Coach: Barry Search (5th season, 54-24).

Last year: 19-5 overall, 10-4 LVC.

Postseason: Defeated Emmaus in D-11 4A quarterfinals; Lost to Northampton in D-11 4A semi-finals.

Top returners: Sr. C Jordy Augustus, Sr. CF Courtney Miller, Sr. P/1B Morgan Rentzheimer, Sr. P/1B Rachel Smerdon, Sr. 3B/OF/1B Alexis Oakley, Sr. 2B Kelly Gruber, Jr. SS Emma Varrato, Jr. 2B Samantha Pickar, Jr. C Sydney Stibitz, Jr. OF Abby Fritzinger, Jr. OF Madison Marshall, So. Taylor Knappenberger.

Key newcomers: Sr. C Amanda Lacesa, Jr. OF Lizzy Zubia, Jr. OF Kristin Herpel, Jr. OF Stefany Danner.

Outlook: Parkland is returning the majority of its roster from last season, including four seniors who have been on varsity since their freshman year. Search believes in order for them to be successful, the girls need to find a way to play as a unit. The LVC should be a tough league, but if the Lady Trojans learn to gel together, they could have the leadership and experience to come out on top.

Northampton

Coach: Kevin Mann (1st year).

Last year: 22-3 overall, 13-1 LVC.

Postseason: Lost to Emmaus in LVC semi-finals; Defeated Pottsville in D-11 4A quarterfinals; Defeated Parkland in D-11 4A semi-finals; Defeated Liberty in D-11 4A final; Lost to North Penn in PIAA 4A first round.

Top returners: Sr. SS/3B Brianna Dalton, Sr. C Hannah Peters, Sr. OF Taylor Kerbacher, Sr. SS/OF Leandra Sterner, Jr. 2B/OF Alexandra Reppert, Jr. 2B/OF Amber Saylor, Jr. 3B/OF Kendal Reed, Jr. 3B/DH Rachel Heimbach.

Key newcomers: Jr. 2B/OF Kasey Frey, Jr. P/1B Samantha Frey, So. 3B/OF Auria Enright, So. 1B Emily Schwartz, Fr. P/SS Jillian Muthard, Fr. P Taylor Keeney.

Outlook: Northampton experienced a lot of success in 2013 and is poised to do it again in 2014. However, the team will be moving on without top ace Marly Laubach, who is at Penn State, and former coach Sally Whittaker-Kahan, who resigned due to health and family reasons. Big contributors to last year’s title team are returning and new coach Mann says the team is “determined” to defend the district title. It will all hinge on their ability to fill the shoes left by Laubach.

Northern Lehigh

Coach: Robert Hicks (1st year).

Last year: 8-12 overall,5-11 CL.

Top returners: Sr. INF/OF Cassie Toth, Sr. INF Shannon Weil, Jr. INF Kiana Marlatt, Jr. P Amber Thomas, So. OF Madison Bellesfield, So. OF Taylor Herman.

Key newcomers: Jr. INF/OF Jocelyn Filchner, Jr. INF Devan Pepe, So. INF/OF Taylor Gallimore, So. INF/OF Sage Hargreaves, So. P/INF Brittany Pristash, Fr. P/INF Meghan Handwerk, Fr. C Tiffany Yesik.

Outlook: Longtime assistant coach, Bob Hicks, is entering his first year as the head coach of Northern Lehigh as he takes over for Jon DeFrain, who resigned after last season. Hicks has a lot of talent returning from last year’s squad, but a lot of underclassmen in big roles, which could be costly. Hicks hopes to get the Lady Bulldogs back into playoff contention with constant teamwork.

Palmerton

Coach: Robert Hock (1st year).

Last year: 16-6 overall, 12-4 CL.

Postseason: Lost to Catasauqua in CL semi-finals;Defeated Southern Lehigh in District 11 3A semi-finals; Lost to Bethlehem Catholic in District 11 3A final.

Top returners: Sr. 2B Trisha Connolly, Jr. SS Janel Tracy, Jr. 1B Abby Reimer, Jr. C Lauren Campell, Jr. 3B Ashley Lalik, Jr. OF Megan Peck, Jr. OF Steph Brinker, Jr. OF Cassie Keiser, Jr. 2B Lindsay Stasko.

Key newcomers: So. OF Jordan Boyer, So. P Kendra Pekurny, So. C/1B Alyssa Acker, So. P/INF Reese Dugan, Jr. INF Jocelyn Russo, So. Darion Jacoby.

Outlook: Palmerton dominated in 2013, but went home without any hardware. The core of that group is back for 2014, along with a new head coach, and they are ready for another shot at a title. This team brings a lot of experience and they hope that propels them over the hump and into some championships.

Lehighton

Coach: Greg Poremba (2nd year, 5-15).

Last year: 5-15 overall, 2-10 MVC.

Top returners: Jr. C Kelsey Andrews, Jr. SS Sophie Everett, Jr. OF Brooke Scott, So. P/OF/INF Autumn Bickert; SO. P/OF/INF Hannah Binyon, So. 3B/C Jocylyn Hunsicker; So. OF/3B Amanda Louden, So. 1B Cammi Nalesnik.

Key newcomers: Sr. OF Emily Steigerwalt, Jr. OF Hannah Gilbert, Jr. 1B Jill Guzenski; So. SS/OF Kayla Heffelfinger, So. INF/OF Saige Miller, Fr. SS/OF Allison Armbruster.

Outlook: The Indians started six freshmen on a regular basis last year, showing a lot of inexperience on the diamond. Poremba hopes his team will limit the mistakes this spring as the core group from last year, will bring experience, to mix with some new pieces, which he hopes brings the team into winning ways.

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