EXETER – Wyoming Area had a championship softball team in 2015.
The Warriors have a chance to be even better this spring, but will still face some of the same challenges.
“I look at that we’re improved offensively and defensively over last year,” third-year coach John McNeil said of a veteran team that returns after going 11-4 to win Division 2 of the Wyoming Valley Conference and finishing 16-5 overall. “It’s been a very competitive preseason practice with girls vying for various positions.
“I see some continuity in our team. Confidence is growing and we’re really looking for a good season.”
Wyoming Area returns its top hitter, its primary pitcher and much more.
Senior center fielder Bree Bednarski is back for her fourth season as a starter. The leadoff hitter led the team in runs (26), hits (36) and stolen bases (16) while batting .456 last season.
Pitcher Gwen Glatz had a big 2015 season as a freshman.
Glatz went 15-5 with a 1.24 earned run average while striking out 126 and walking just 25 in 141 innings. She also contributed power at the plate, batting .323 while leading the team with five homers and 26 RBI.
Senior Sarah Coolbaugh is a three-year starter at catcher. She batted .475 last season and tied Bednarski for third on the team with 11 RBI.
Seniors Heather Nametko and Grace Gober are back at first base and right field while sophomore Kristi Skok returns at third base.
Gober batted .339 last season.
The middle infield has been reconstructed.
Jess Parente, who started at second base last season as a sophomore, moves to shortstop. She batted .309 and stole 10 bases.
Senior Vicky Remley, who has experience as an outfielder and designated hitter, moves into the infield to take over at second base.
Sophomores Julia Kopetchny and Annie Karcutskie gained some experience as reserves last year and are battling for the left-field spot.
Senior Ashley Crispell is trying to gain some playing time in the outfield as well.
McNeil said he has not decided yet on whether to use a designated hitter.
The Warriors needed a playoff and an extra-inning win over Nanticoke to beat the eventual District 2 Class AAA champions out of the division title. A 2-1, nine-inning loss to Berwick ended the season in the district semifinals.
“Nanticoke looks good right now,” McNeil said. “We fought last year back and forth and I’m sure it will be the same.”
McNeil, who was an assistant at 19 years at Dallas before taking over at Wyoming Area, expects his old team to be a factor in the division along with Tunkhannock.