Berkeley Springs High School softball preview
An infusion of new talent should help the Berkeley Springs High School softball team, according to veteran head coach Greg Brown. "This is probably the best freshman class I've had in 10 years at Berkeley Springs," Brown said. "I am very excited about this year's potential. Of course potential doesn't win for you unless you reach it. That comes with hard work." If hard work is the recipe for success, then Brown has to like his team's chances.
"We have a total of 24 girls out and each and everyone has a positive attitude," said Brown. "I know there were some girls upset about not making varsity, but you could never tell by watching them. I really believe every girl is doing everything she can to get better."
With the tremendous work ethic and solid pitching staff, Berkeley Springs is eager to improve on last year's record of 21-12 and reach their goal of winning a regional title and advancing to the state tournament. "With a good mix of returning players and fresh young talent, along with three quality pitchers, Amanda Waltman, Samantha Zahnow and Katie Kesecker, I feel good about this team," said an optimistic Brown. "Pitching is a huge part of this game and we should be very solid in that department."
Brown also thinks his team got a jump on the season by participating in "fall ball." The fact that many of the older and younger players played together earlier this year should only help this spring, according to Brown. "I think the fall league helped a lot and was a particular bonus for our freshmen," said Brown. Four of the five varsity ninth graders have already experienced actual games with their older teammates and that takes a lot of pressure off when March rolls around. They weren't intimidated a bit when practices began. They saw what we have and they know they can make it better. Joe Scherpf and Tom Zahnow did a great job last fall of getting the chemistry started between the old and the new."
The only real concern Brown has is defense and he and his staff are doing everything within their power to improve in that area. "One of our main goals is to improve our defense," Brown said. "We lost 12 games a year ago with both Amanda and Samantha posting ERA's of under 2.00. We are going to work hard and improve it. If we can get the defense to prevent extra outs it will help us tremendously."
Though Brown is excited about the potential of his freshman class, he has some proven veterans that should provide offensive firepower, defense, pitching and leadership for the Tribe.
Waltman led the team in batting last year with an average of .446, in RBI with 32, home runs with three and extra base hits with 19. She also posted eight wins, striking out 86 with an ERA of 1.20 in 93 innings of work. Fellow junior Samantha Zahnow was second on the team in batting with an average of .398 and led the team in runs with 42. She also led the team with 10 wins, striking out 111 in 89.1 innings, while posting an ERA of 1.80. Waltman and Zahnow will rotate starts between pitching and second base.
Starting at shortstop will be senior Ashley Hovermale. Hovermale batted .299 last year, scoring 20 runs, while recording eight RBI. Third base will be manned by Kayla Hill, a junior. Hill batted .260 in 2006, with 14 RBI, 23 runs scored, three doubles and two triples. Sarah Risinger starts behind the plate. The senior batted .275 last year, with 27 runs scored and 13 RBI. Freshman Alyssa Spielman will start at first, rounding out the starting infield.
Only one starter has been settled in the outfield and that is sophomore centerfielder Katie Kesecker. Kesecker, who will also see time on the mound, batted .297 last year, with nine doubles, five triples and 33 runs scored. She also picked up three wins on the mound in 28.2 innings of work. The other two outfield positions are still up for grabs. And, according to Brown, he will likely platoon those two positions until someone clearly wins the jobs. Seniors Tiffany Hovermale and Susannah Bennett along with freshmen Lauren Hill, Kasi Jackson, Alexis Stotler and Renee Weber make up the remainder of the varsity roster.
The junior varsity roster has seniors Alicia Day, Charlene Johnson and Amanda Miller, sophomores Tiffany Compton, Sarah Cook, Brittany McCarty, Rachel Shambaugh, Katie Spriggs, Jessica Crouse and freshmen Cori Martin and Katarina Napfel.
Assisting Brown will be Fred Sirbaugh, Steve Detrick, Rodney Hovermale and Megan Zahnow.
"I'm still lucky enough to have Fred, Steve and Rodney back," Brown said. "Megan Zahnow, a former BSHS player who also played at Shepherd University will help with the varsity and be in total control of the JV program. Former first-team All-state catcher Jess Detrick spent her spring break at our practices and really helped, especially with our catchers. Just by watching Megan and Jess this past week I could see from the enthusiasm and knowledge they exhibited that they will be tremendous coaches in the future."
The Indians are scheduled to host Hedgesville in a varsity, junior varsity double-header today, March 21, beginning at 4 p.m. The two teams then travel to Hedgesville on Friday, March 23. The varsity will play Clear Spring at Clear Spring on March 26, before hosting Martinsburg in a varsity, junior varsity double-header on Tuesday, March 27.