Softball season ends in victory
LADY LIONS CLOSE WITH SWEEP OF GA
Finish 6-6 in PSUAC
April 28: PSNK 8, 10; PS Greater Allegheny 0, 1
WP: Bridget Fisher (3-3)
2B: Candis Downey (2); Jenna Swank; Amy Wengrzyn
Multi Hits: Katie Colbert, Sarah Kutchko; Sam Motchar;
Downey (4); Swank (4); Wengrzyn
6-6 PSUAC; 6-7 Overall
Under bright sunshine that has been scarce all spring, the Penn State New Kensington softball team closed out one of its wettest seasons April 28 at home with a doubleheader sweep of Penn State Greater Allegheny, 8-0 and 10-1.
Freshman pitcher Bridget Fisher threw two complete games even her record at 3-3. Fisher's battery mate, senior catcher Candis Downey, supplied the offense with two doubles and two singles. Freshman Jenna Swank was potent at the plate with a double and three singles.
The New Kensington Lady Lions concluded the 2011 campaign with a 6-6 record and a fifth-place finish in Penn State University Athletic Conference. Overall, coach Mike Marsilli's sported a 6-7 mark.
For the softball roster, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/StudentLife/Athletics/39082.htm online.
Coach Mike Marsilli has the team doing its conditioning, fielding, and hitting in the Athletics Center. The squad is working out in the weight room, fielding grounders in the gymnasium, and getting its swings inside the batting cage. In addition, pitchers are throwing on the sidelines while position players are executing defensive drills.
With a blend of savvy veterans and talented newcomers, Marsilli is expecting the team to make a run at the conference title. The third-year coach has been building toward the championship ever since he took over the program in 2009. His first team went 0-14 in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. He turned it around last year, guiding the New Kensington Lady Lions to 9-9 record and a berth in the PSUAC Final Four.
"With a playoff appearance last year, the team should be very confident going into the season," said Marsilli. "The players are working hard to get better, and this year's team should be very competitive."
Pitching and defense have been the hallmarks of all Marsilli's teams, and both attributes will be on display this season. On offense, he has some speed, so bunting and stealing will help generate runs.
"I think that our pitching and defense can limit the opposition to one or two runs per game," said Marsilli, a resident of Vandergrift." On offense, we will go one base at a time and sacrifice runners into scoring position."
Fueling the optimism is the return of five starters, led by senior catcher Candis Downey, the team's pitching ace a year ago. Pressed into service after the team lost two pitchers in the preseason, Downey pitched every inning of every game, and fashioned a 10-13 overall record. The Swissvale, Pa. native's arm was matched only by her speed and deft touch at the plate. As the leadoff hitter, she had a knack for getting on base, as her.361 average attested. Downey, the campus' Female Athlete of the Year, topped the squad with 12 stolen bases and was second in batting average.With two freshmen taking over the mound duties this season, Downey remains a part of the battery as she moves to her natural position behind the plate.
"Candis can bunt, slap, and steal bases, and that makes her an excellent leadoff hitter," said Marsilli, who is a certified softball coach." She also has a strong arm that can catch runners trying to steal on us."
The outfield will be anchored by sophomore left fielder Amy Wengrzyn, who led the team in four categories--.439 batting average, 25 hits, two homers, and 17 runs batted in. The Franklin Regional High School graduate scored 15 runs and was named PSUAC Player of the Week for the week of April 20.
"Amy hits for average and can hit to all fields with power," said Marsilli. "She is our top hitter as well as a student of the game."
Sophomore Katie Colbert returns for her second season as starting first baseman. Solid around the bag, Colbert was second in the nation in fielding percentage last year. Rounding out the returning starters is sophomore Brianna Ring. She will patrol centerfield and gives Marsilli a solid unit up the middle.
"Katie is a line drive hitter, and she has good speed on the bases," said Marsilli. "Brianna makes good contact at the plate, and she is a good bunter."
Heading the list of newcomers are the pair of first-year hurlers, Jenna Swank and Bridget Fisher, who will share the pitching responsibilities. Swank is a power pitcher and Fisher is finesse pitcher.
"They complement each other," said Marsilli. "Jenna is a hard thrower with a good change up while Bridget can hit her spots."
At second base, freshman Sarah Kutcho has moved to the forefront. In right field, sophomore Jessica Ankeny and freshmen Maria Guido and Lauren Peace will battle for a starting slot.
"Sarah is learning the position and has the tools to be a solid second baseman," said Marsilli. "Maria, Lauren and Jess will be counted on to platoon in right field."
"Our pitching and defense will be our strengths, as well as the experience and confidence we gained last year," said Marsilli. "We don't have much depth, so avoiding injuries will be the key to the season."
For the full softball schedule, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/StudentLife/Athletics/39082.htm online.