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West Shamokin softball team hopes experience counts

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

With eight starters returning, West Shamokin's softball team hopes to improve.

West Shamokin, which finished with a 5-15 (2-10 in Section 3-AA), will be a junior-heavy team led by shortstop Kelly Clowser and pitcher Alecia Calhoun, who will miss some action this season because of mononucleosis. Calhoun, who missed some time last year with some arm issues, is expected to rejoin the Wolves when section play starts.

The Wolves will have a new head coach, Jim Ellenberger, at the helm this year.

“We don't have a lot of experience,” Ellenberger said. “We want to compete with the upper-echelon teams in the section. We are in one of the toughest sections in WPIAL.”

Junior catcher Tori Lowry, the team's captain, will be providing the leadership to make sure the team stays focused on improving. Senior center fielder Jen Notto is another returning starter and will be counted on if West Shamokin wants to finish higher in Section 3-AA.

“I'm going to tell them to go out there every game and to do there best,” Lowry said. “We want to have the mentality that we are better than everyone.”

The other returning starters include junior right fielder Danielle Smith; sophomore designated player Haley Buckley, the team's top returning hitter; junior Tristan Cribbs; and junior left fielder Belle McIlwain.

Other younger players who could make an impact include freshmen pitcher/first baseman Stephanie Schneckgost, outfielder Alexis Claypole and third baseman Kelsie Lipsie.

“I think we have definitely improved from last year,” Ellenberger said. “If Alecia comes back from her health issues, we should be a lot better than last year.”

West Shamokin will have a tough road to getting to the fourth spot in Section 3-AA in order to qualify for the playoffs. The section includes Valley, Burrell, Deer Lakes and Freeport, who all are expected to jockey for playoff spots.

“We have some unseen potential,” Lowry said. “I think if we are headstrong and the want to do it, we can make it to the playoffs because we have the talent here.”

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