Area's MPC Colonial Div. softball preview
Greencastle-Antrim Blue Devils
Coach: Mark DeCarli, fourth season, 54-19 (.734).
Last season: 15-9 (7-3 Mid Penn Colonial Division); lost in extra innings of the District 3 Class AAA third-place game to Conrad Weiser.
Returning starters: Ally Brown (jr., OF/P, P.O. First Team), Liz Ward (sr., P, P.O. Second Team), Morgan Wagaman (jr., CF, P.O. honorable mention).
Other top players: Alicen Hoover (jr., 1B), Ali Sherman (jr., 2B), Allison Shockey (sr., C), MacKenzie Oberholzer (jr., 3B/C), Jess Root (sr., OF), Olivia Remenick (so., OF/P), Abby Reitz (jr., 2B), Jenna Carty (jr., OF/DP), Hannah Beeler fr., utility).
Outlook: DeCarli said, "Last year, we came up a little short, losing in the district semifinal, so we're hoping to get back to the district championship and return to states. Attitudes have been great to far, and we have only three seniors and the rest are mostly juniors. We're excited because all these juniors were sophomores a year ago, and we committed a lot of errors last year. If we can improve and play solid defense, we'll be hard to stop."
Notes: Ward, Root and Shockey are all team captains ... G-A graduated Katie Gelsinger, a two-year starter at catcher ... Shockey will catch for Ward, and Oberholzer will catch for Brown ... Greencastle won the district championship in 2013.
Season opener: Monday, at home vs. East Pennsboro, 4:15.
James Buchanan Rockets
Coach: Troy Pittman, first year.
Last season: 18-5 (8-2 Mid Penn Colonial Division); co-division champions; lost to Conrad Weiser in the District 3 Class AAA quarterfinals.
Returning starters: Taryn Miller (sr., SS, P.O. First Team), Nina Shatzer (sr., 2B/P, P.O. First Team), Charity Miller (sr., 1B, P.O. honorable mention), Kayla Cummings (sr., OF), Cara Bender (jr., 3B), Carly Caron (so., C).
Other top players: Maria Burkett (fr., C), Jenna Mongold (fr., P/IF), Alyssa Blair (fr., OF), Harley Rife (fr., OF).
Outlook: Pittman said, "Our goal at this point would be to get Nina and Jenna to throw strikes, and we're trying to figure out who's going to play where. Putting four freshman in the lineup is not easy. Taryn hurt her back last year, missed half the season, and she feels pitching could re-aggravate that injury, but I haven't given up on having her pitch yet."
Notes: Miller, who will play next year at Robert Morris, has been one of the top pitchers in the area and was P.O. Player of the Year in 2014 ... Brooke Pittman (jr., OF) may not play this year due to an injury ... JB plans to start up to four freshmen ... Troy Pittman was an assistant coach for five years prior to taking over this season for Eric Reed, who was 89-55 (.618) in seven seasons.
Season opener: Monday, at Trinity, 4.
Shippensburg Lady Hounds
Coach: Mike Peters, eighth season, 77-47 (.621).
Last season: 15-6 (8-2 Mid Penn Colonial Division); co-division champions; lost to Hempfield in the first round of the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs.
Returning starters: Courtney Coy (jr., P/OF, P.O. First Team), Morgan Fetter (so., C/IF, P.O. First Team), Sami Barmont (so., SS), Maddie Miller (jr., 1B), Courtney Lawson (sr., OF), Maddie Kline (jr., OF), Taylor Davison (sr., DP/IF, P.O. honorable mention).
Other top players: Caitlin Porter (sr., IF/C), Ashley Macedo (jr., OF), Amber Orndorff (fr., 2B/OF), Rachel Kline (fr., 3B).
Outlook: Peters said, "This year, we have a great battery returning in Courtney Coy and Morgan Fetter. We have spots to fill at third and second base, which still are up for grabs. I think we'll be a little faster this season and try to use that speed to our advantage."
Notes: After winning the District 3-AAA championship in 2014, the Hounds moved up to 4A last season and will play in that class this year ... Coy was in the running for Player of the Year last season ... The Hounds may start a pair of freshmen in Orndorff and Kline.
Season opener: Tuesday, at Mechanicsburg, 4:15.
Coach: Aaron Burke, first year.
Last year: 5-15 (2-8 Mid Penn Colonial Division).
Returning starters: Katie Wise (jr., CF, P.O. honorable mention), Jenna Powell (so., 3B), Sara Gsell (jr., SS), Tiffany Stull (sr., C/2B, P.O. honorable mention), Nicole Kreimer (sr., LF, P.O. Second Team), Alyssa Medina (sr., P), Abby Ebersole (jr., RF).
Other top players: Hannah Wile (jr., 1B/DH), Chelsea Cover (jr., C), Elizabeth Churchman (jr., 3B), MacKenzie Miller (fr., IF/DH), Lauren Hunsecker (fr., P), Sam Knopp (jr., utility), Hailey Stum (sr., 1B).
Outlook: Burke said, "I feel we can surprise a lot of people this year. I think we have can compete for the Colonial title. We have a very strong offensive team - over 30 hits in two scrimmages - and we have a few key pieces this year. The question mark is the pitching, which is huge. If Lauren and Alyssa can hold teams to five or six runs, we have a real chance to be really good, I think."
Notes: The Maidens started the season 1-11 last year before finishing the last eight games with a 4-4 record ... Cover joined the team this season ... Sadie Harshman (sr., P) did not come out for the team, and Wile is back from an ACL tear ... Burke was the Maidens' interim coach for the last 10 games last year ... Burke took over for Doug Stuart, who had a 157-121 record in 15-plus years.
Next game: Monday, at home vs. Northern York, 4:15.