The Wyoming Area softball team finished strong in 2017, advancing all the way to the District 2 championship game and state tournament in Class 4A.
In an attempt to start faster, coach John McNeil is putting an increased emphasis on hitting early this season.
Wyoming Area scored 12 runs Monday in its non-league opener, more than the Lady Warriors managed during a four-game, mid-season losing streak that dropped last year’s team to 5-6.
“We had some fundamental mistakes that we’re in the process of correcting, but I was satisfied with the way we hit the ball,” McNeil said of the game against Northwest. “With the exception of one error, we were pretty solid in the field.
“ … What we did this year is we concentrated on hitting. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on hitting. We’ve already been better at it. So far, the girls have responded to it.”
The Lady Warriors return their entire team from last year’s playoff run that included one-run district tournament victories over West Scranton and, in 10 innings, top-seeded Nanticoke.
There will, however, be a different look defensively with some players moving around.
Nicole Silinskie comes in from center field to catch. Jess Parente trades places with her.
Brianna Pizzano moves from shortstop to first base. Kari Melberger goes from spending some time at first base to more regularly playing at second base.
“Defensively, I think the moves that we made makes us a little stronger than we were last year,” McNeil said. “All in all, I think that puts the best defense out there that we can put.”
Gwen Glatz is back for her fourth year as pitcher. She had 243 strikeouts in 354 1/3 innings over 59 career appearances entering this season.
As last season progressed, pitching duties were split more evenly between Glatz and Cassidy Graham, something that McNeil says is likely to continue.
Glatz was 8-6 with a 3.44 earned run average and Graham, another senior, was 1-3 with a 4.39 ERA last season.
When Graham pitches, the infield will likely be sophomores Pizzano and Melberger at first and second base with seniors Glatz and Kristi Skok on the left side at shortstop and third base.
Glatz’s pitching appearances will probably feature a series of moves that include Graham going to first base and Skok taking over at shortstop. Pizzano or Melberger could end up at third base.
Parente is in center with Julia Kopetchny in left and Annie Karcutskie in right for the all-senior outfield.
Skok led the team in batting average, triples and runs batted in last season. Parente led in hits, runs and doubles while Glatz led in home runs and Melberger in stolen bases.
Wyoming Area was 7-6 during the Wyoming Valley Conference season to finish third in Division 2. The Lady Warriors won six out of seven late before falling to eventual state finalist Tunkhannock in the district final and against Bangor in the first round of state play.
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