Continue to improve is the goal for girls
With the advent of a new softball season, Whitehall begins a new chapter under new head coach Blake Morgan.
Yes, it seems that new will be the operative word as they begin the 2018 campaign which got underway last weekend at Myrtle Beach.
“It’s new for everybody, new for the players, new for the coaches,” said Morgan who enters year one with a team that finished 13-9.
While Morgan inherits a veteran team with a number of returning starters, he still has to learn about those players and that’s going to be his objective as they embark on this journey together. That also means that they players need to feel comfortable with the new coaching staff as well, and that’s where the trust forms.
“If we stick together and trust each other, and take it one game at a time, we’ll get better each game,” said Morgan.
Morgan said that their goal is to get better every time they step onto the field, whether it’s at practice or in a game.
The Zephyrs can lean on an experienced infield that features a number of returning starters. Casey Cunningham returns at first base, giving them a quality glove at the position. The senior provides some pop in their lineup, homering in their final game of the year against Easton in the district semifinals.
Rachel Arner, a junior, returns at second. Arner handles the bat well, using an arsenal of slap hits and drag bunts that serves as a valuable asset at the top of their lineup. Arner kept busy over the summer as a member of the Lehigh Valley Carpenter Cup softball team, getting two hits in their elimination game.
“We’re expecting big things from her this year,” said Morgan.
Senior Samantha Molitoris will handle the duties at shortstop, while sophomore Amanda Mortimer will be at the hot corner again this year.
Two players are still vying to be the catcher, with Iliana Oliver, a senior, and Anastasia Yocum, a junior, staking their claims to the position.
The Zephs will ride the arm of freshman Maddie Cunningham this season. Cunningham got the victory against Bentworth Senior High School in their opening game at Myrtle Beach to start the 2018 season. It was not only her first win as a varsity player, but she tossed a no hitter as well.
Sophomore Emily Foehrkolb will also see time on the mound.
The outfield has one returning starter as Veronica Rodriguez will play left field. Newcomers Meghan Hutter and Abbey Reese, both freshmen, will play right field and center field, respectively.
Logan Bortz is another valuable returnee who will split time catching and the playing the infield. She’s also a proven run producer, and her bat will generate some pop in their lineup.
The Zephs will also feature senior Rachel Sottolano, a returning vet who will patrol the outfield this yea. Senior Genesis Perez, a newcomer, will be another outfielder in the mix for the Zephs.
Autumn Dragovits, a junior, is another returning varsity player, and she’ll be part of their outfield rotation as well.
The Zephs will also feature freshmen Lindsey Gawrys who can both catch and play the infield.
The Zephs will be captained this year by Casey Cunningham, Molitoris, Arner and Mortimer.
Morgan acknowledged that it’s a long season and that players could be moved around as the season progresses.
While “new” may be the dominant theme this year, Morgan also stresses trust. He said that together the players and coaching staff are learning what’s important, and trust is at the top of that list.
Joining Morgan on the coaching staff will be Ed Stinner, Deanna Stinner, Kyle Stinner and Mike Deutsch.
While at Myrtle, he was pleased by the way they stuck together as a team, and that’s what he hopes will be a constant throughout the season.
In that first win, they banged out 14 hits. Bortz went 2-3 with an RBI, while Casey Cunningham was 2-4 with a double.