High hopes push Kittanning softball team
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Led by a Hall of Fame coach and a roster of experienced players, the Kittanning softball team has every reason to think big.
“We have high expectations, and making the playoffs, that's the top one,” junior shortstop Tarra Schall said. “We definitely have a lot more goals for this season.”
And why not? The Wildcats subtracted just one graduated senior off a team that had a winning record and qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs last season.
Whereas last year, Kittanning was young and relatively inexperienced, this season it boasts seven seniors and eight returning starters.
“The girls are real excited,” Wildcats coach Tom Emminger said. “They don't have to learn new positions or worry about a jump up to the varsity level. They'll just continue what we've been doing the last couple years.”
The Wildcats have qualified for the WPIAL playoffs four of the past five seasons and six times under Emminger since 2000. Emminger is in his 46th season of coaching high school and youth sports in the area, a record that earned him induction into the Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame.
“Coach Emminger, he's so dedicated,” Schall said. “We see him at school, he'll be there all day, just during the day he'll be there working on the field. He just loves the everything about being part of a team, and I think we love him for it, too.”
Emminger calls these Wildcats “a very tight group” that spends plenty of time together on and off the field.
This cold and wet March, it's been more of the latter, as Kittanning had been able to practice outside just once before a scheduled scrimmage Wednesday.
“We've all been playing softball together for I don't even know how long — little league?” Schall said. “It's the same group that's been together for a while, and we have good chemistry.”
In the coming weeks, that common interest will be in leading Kittanning to victories.
Emminger calls Schall “one of the best shortstops I've seen at Kittanning” and said she has the ability both with her bat and glove to be a college player. Schall's batting average was better than .400 last season, and she was named all-section.
The Wildcats' other top returnees include catcher/third baseman Nicole Johnson and outfielder Cassie Merryman.
Pitcher Courtney Edwards is back as a senior, with senior Nellie Toy and junior Emily Kutch other arms capable of pitching.
Sophomores pitcher/shortstop Emily Fries and third baseman/outfielder Maggie McCanna and freshmen second baseman Alexis Adams and catcher/infielder Breanna McGaughey also figure to be contributors.
“They just have to concentrate on what we're doing. ... play the way they should and just keep their heads in the game,” Emminger said. “And if that happens, I think we'll be OK.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.