Tyrone softball team hopes for big things with returning vets

The Tyrone girls softball team opens their 2003 season today with a road game at Bishop Guilfoyle. The girls and coach Lois Loncher expect big things this season. Veterans abound on this squad and everybody thinks the potential is there to greatly improve on last year’s 11-10 mark.
“Very good,” was coach Loncher’s immediate reply when the question about the season outlook was asked. “We have a lot of returning experience. The one concern we do have is injuries. If we get an injury here, an injury there, that could cause some problems. We have a good group of kids, good attitudes, they work hard. That is a big positive. We are definitely expecting to improve on last year’s record.”
Tyrone is in the small school division of the Mountain League again this year, which will help the Lady Eagles. Next year however, with the new super conference Mountain Athletic Conference (MAC). That will change and Tyrone will face tougher competition from bigger schools.
“I know the kids are excited to get on the field and play at this point,” stressed Loncher. “We can make some moves, but if Hilary gets hurt we will be in trouble. We would have to bring in our shortstop in to pitch and that’s where we run into trouble. Most other positions we are in pretty good shape. We just don’t have the depth I would like at pitching. One of the girls that was going to pitch, can’t play right now for health reasons. We are a little thin there, now. We thought that would be one of our strengths going into the season.”
Loncher indicated the dedication of many of the girls in playing summer ball to help improve timing and other skills, mentioning, Hilary McNelis, Stephanie Catich, Ashley Carper, Mindy Rudy, Katie Whitby, Missy Stager, Heather Stanton.
“The more you put into not only the more you get out of it, but importantly, you don’t want to lose,” said coach Loncher. “You don’t start hanging your head on the first bad play or error. I’m excited and they are excited”
Loncher will start the season with Katie Whitby leading off and playing third base, Mindy Rudy batting second and playing second base, Ashley Carper will bat third and be at first base, Hilary McNelis will bat cleanup and pitch, number five in the order will be Stephanie Catich playing shortstop, six will be Missy Stager playing right field, seven will be Heather Stanton catching, Eight will be Brittany Wilson in left field and nine will be Loriel Herist in center field.
Tyrone will not use the new “flex player” in the lineup, at least not early in the season.
The Lady Eagles will open today at BG, then get busy next week with games on Monday, March 31, at Bellwood-Antis, Wednesday, April 2, at home against PIAA state champ Penns Valley and Friday, April 4, at Claysburg-Kimmel.