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Lady Eagles, B-A girls open softball season at Tyrone

The spring high school sports season is here, and even though snow blanketed the ground on Friday night, softball gets a start here this afternoon. Weather permitting (You can put that disclaimer in every high school softball, baseball, and track article in spring’s sometimes cold, often rainy weather.) the Tyrone Lady Eagles and Bellwood-Antis Lady Blue Devils open the softball season in the first of the spring Backyard Brawl events, at Tyrone’s Harry K. Sickler Athletic Complex at 4 p.m.
Both schools are in new leagues in 2008, although many of the same teams are now involved in the new conferences. Tyrone begins it’s tenure in the 10-team Mountain League, while Bellwood-Antis opens up action in the 12-team Inter-County Conference, which until the beginning of the current school year had been a football-only organization since its beginning back in 1938.
Tyrone coach Lois Loncher begins her ninth season at the helm of the Lady Eagles with what at first glance appears to be a strong nucleus, that includes five returning starters. Seniors Lindsey Christine, 1B, Brooke Garbinsky, 2B, and Amber Miller, 2B/OF, junior Teanna Kobuck, LF, and sophomore Paris Harden, 3B, are back from last year’s 3-16 (1-11 in the MAC) record. Christine and Garbinsky will be three-year starters and Kobuck is starting for the second season.
The good news is the five returning starters. The bad news is that behind that group there is no experience and a very small roster.
Newcomers Kayla DeSoto Sr., 1B/OF, Amanda Detwiler Jr., 1B /OF, Suzanne Zimmerman Soph., OF, Kassie Gardner Fr., OF, Annie Miller Fr., P, and Stephanie Snyder Fr., 2B /OF, complete the 11 players on the varsity roster for coach Loncher, who is assisted by varsity assistant Jim Cushion. Jim Domenick, who will coach the junior varsity.
Junior high coaches will be Danielle Wilson and Julie Harden.
“As you know we are replacing five from last year’s team- Kimberly Cherry, Casie Glashauser, Ashley Pennabaker, Shannon Shultz and Megan Turiano. We are replacing a lot of lost talent. This year’s seniors of Lindsay Christine, Kayla DeSoto, Brooke Garbinsky and Amber Miller are adapting to their roles and taking the younger girls under their wings. We are working together to get better,” said Coach Loncher. “We are starting several new girls and this will be their first varsity competition. How well they adjust and step up will be crucial. We are young and inexperienced at many positions.”
Christine led the team last spring with a .346 batting average, 18 hits, and 10 RBI, and was second in doubles with three. Ashley Pennebaker, Kimberly Cherry and Christine provided nearly all of the Lady Eagles offense however, and with a squad of just 11 girls, Tyrone needs good health and injury-free seasons from everybody, plus needs several of the newcomers to step up big-time against a very tough schedule, that includes two games each against Philipsburg-Osceola and Bald Eagle Area, the last two District champions and in the case of P-O, the defending 2007 PIAA state champ.
“We play in a very difficult league and our schedule is probably the toughest we have ever had,” explained Loncher. “We will struggle in our league at times but how we do outside our league will determine how well our season goes. We have very little depth and only four girls from the junior/sophmore class on varsity. We lack varsity experience and whether the new girls are ready they are being thrown into the fire.”
Bellwood-Antis has been paying the price for starting a sophomore and six freshmen two years ago. Now fifth-year Coach Alex Sitman is hoping that perseverance and the two years of experience will aid the Lady Blue Devils in their new league after a 4-16 (3-13 in the MAC) a year ago.
Still young, the Lady Blue Devils only senior is Courtney Hamer, 1B/P/OF.
Other starters include: juniors Emily Derr P/OF, Tory Baldauf, SS, Jenna Brown, 3B, and Tamara Askey, C, sophomore Allison Derr, OF/P.
Junior Kendra McCracken, of, is also a 2007 letterwinner.
Pitching is a little thin, with the unavailability of sophomore Cruxella Jones, due to an operation and recovery time from an injury suffered playing basketball for the Lady Blue Devils. That limits the pitching chores to Emily Derr, who shared the mound with Jones last year.
“The girls have a very good work ethic, good attitudes and desire to achieve their goals,” explained Sitman, who was ready to step down after last season, but was talked into staying by the girls and their parents.
“Although, we are still very young, depth at some key positions is a major concern, the team has been working hard and we are anxious to get some games in and get into our league schedule,” said Sitman, who is assisted by Jim Kovac and Todd Cardamone.
Jim Payne, Bob Heuston, and Henry Davinsizer are the junior high coaches.
Top newcomers for the Lady Blue Devils are: junior Ashley Putt, OF, freshmen Ashley Hamer, SS/2B, Rochelle Donahue, OF, Brooke McVicker, 3B, Krista Bonsell, C/OF, and Jess Snyder, OF, and sophomores Hillary Miller, OF, and Fawn McCracken, 2B.
“We have a nice number of girls out, but we badly need to get a couple games under our belt,” said Sitman. “If they can continue to work, these girls can do something for the B-A program. We have to rely on Emily with the injury to Crixella. That can be telling in case of injury, back-to-back games on consecutive days, unforeseen situations.
“We have a good group of young ladies who have been working very hard, who have good leadership and are serious about softball. They are willing to put the time in and want to play good softball.”