Future looks promising
After another year in which they made the postseason, the Whitehall softball team's prospects remain extremely bright as they now turn their attention to 2016.
For a team that finished 12-11 and made both the district and league playoffs, the future is quite promising since they'll only lose two seniors heading into next season.
After a slow start in which they were winless in the first five games, the team rebounded and went 12-6 the rest of the way, including a first-round win over Emmaus in the District XI playoffs.
Head coach Alexis Berg-Townsend said that their ability to shake off that bad start was merely a part of growing up.
"It definitely showed maturity in how they were able to overcome that rocky start," said Berg-Townsend.
She said heading into the season there was a lot of expectations since the team was returning most of their starters, and with that came a level of expectation. She said that the girls rose above that expectation as they made the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11 playoffs.
They competed in arguably the toughest division in the EPC and still emerged as one of the wildcard teams, winning the games they needed to win to secure a berth.
They lose Abigail Nguyen and Karly Klein, both of whom began their softball careers as freshman. Nguyen, who was a two-time first-team all-star, was the team's designated player and one of their biggest run producers the last two seasons. Nguyen made first team in the EPC as the designated player this year, while also earning the same honor last season in the Lehigh Valley Conference.
While those are tangible numbers, her intangibles were also extremely valuable, her encouragement a constant presence from the dugout.
"She brought four year's worth of leadership, experience and determination," said Berg-Townsend.
Berg-Townsend also said that Nguyen was the very definition of clutch.
"With her, it was always guaranteed to put the bat on the ball," said Berg-Townsend.
Klein also played all four years, the last two starting at first base. Berg-Townsend said she shared many of the same qualities as Nguyen, a vocal leader who was someone the team could look up to both on and off the field. In her last game of her Whitehall career, Klein showed just how valuable she was, knocking in four of the Zephyrs seven runs.
"She was just a good leader, bringing a lot of experience and enthusiasm," said Berg-Townsend.
Berg-Townsend said that both players had a strong impact on the team.
"Both of them really worked hard bring the younger players along," she said.
As they now look to 2016, the team returns the bulk of its line-up led by starting pitcher and leading hitter Kay Solderitch. Solderitch is joined by a number of talented underclassmen including Cara Bonshak, Mackenzie Guzy, Julia Solderitch, Jillian Rex, Ashlee Brosky, Gabrielle Molitoris, Rachel Spanitz, Courtney Grim, Rachel Schannauer, Taylor Stephens, Taylor Kosman and Veronica Rodriguez.
Berg-Townsend said that it's very exciting returning such a talented crop of ballplayers next season. She said that with that veteran lineup in place, they'll focus on remaining consistent throughout the entire season. In the prior years they've experienced peaks and valleys, but next season she believes they'll be better prepared as consistency will be their new buzzword.
"It'll be about fine-tuning the skills they've learned the last two years," she said.
With Parkland still in the PIAA playoffs, the Zephs know that's the level they need to be at if they want to challenge for a league and district title. They can certainly build on their final meeting this season, one in which they mounted a ferocious comeback in the top of the seventh before succumbing by just one run, 8-7. That was the most runs allowed by the Trojans all season and shows the tenacity and consistency they'll need to claim their own league and division crowns.
For Berg-Townsend, she's fine with being the underdog. It's a role she and her team both embrace.
And next year … who knows.