Monessen softball: Things looking up?
Monessen softball coach Bo Teets knows the warm weather is coming, he also thinks better days are ahead for his program.
And if the start of the season is any indication, Teets my be right.
The Lady Greyhounds own their first two contests of the season, defeating Charleroi, 3-2, and Jeannette, 11-10.
“Our team expectations this year are to continue to the overall development of the program while getting ourselves in position to challenge for a playoff spot,” Teets said. “The keys to achieving those goals will be to play solid defense, eliminate giving extra outs and at-bats to our opponents, solid pitching and timely hitting.”
His team won four games last year, and they return 10 letter winners.
“We were in almost every game we played last year,” Teets said. “Our focus as a team is to make the plays that are necessary to win those types of close games.”
Coming from a Class A school, Teets will have to rely on flexibility with his players.
Seniors who won letters last year include outfielders Delany Dalfonso and Jordan Helmantoler, infielder Alexis Malarbi and third baseman Narissa Parker.
Dalfonso was one of the team's leading hitter a year ago, hitting .412, while Malarbi hit .366.
Juniors returning to the lineup include utility player Eden Holland, infielder Sarah Panicucci, and outfielder Lauren Perry.
A trio of sophomores, shortstop Cara Grogan, pitcher and utility player Taylor Guzzie, and catcher Alexa Vatakis also return to the lineup.
Grogan was an all-section selection as a freshman as she led the team in batting with an average of .417.
Guzzie was Monessen's top pitcher a year ago, but will play a bevy of spots because of her versatility, said Teets.
The Lady Greyhounds will go with a freshman on the mound, Shelby Minardi. Minardi was the winning hurler in both games so far this season and also has been a top hitter with seven hits - five for extra bases - in the two games.
“Taylor will do some pithcing for us, too, but Shelby is going to be one one,” Teets said. “It is nice to have a player like Taylor who can play so many positions and play them well.”
Monessen plays in Section 2 A and is scheduled to visit Frazier today in the section opener at 4 p.m.
Other section foes include California. Jefferson-Morgan, Serra, Carmichaels, Mapletown, and West Greene.
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.