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Greensburg Salem softball hoping to take next step

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem's Taylor Mehan watches her home run clear the fence as she rounds the bases past Mars first baseman Haley Jones during their WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinal Monday, May 21, 2012, at Woodland Hills.

Expectations are running high once again in the Greensburg Salem softball program this season.

After finishing third in WPIAL Class AAA last season, the Lions are hoping to get back to the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 years.

While the team will rely on seven starters from a team that advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals last season, perhaps none is more valuable than senior pitcher Jayne Oberdorf.

“She is so mature for her age and so focused, and the kid's driven. She doesn't think about anything like normal teenage kids think about except what she wants to do and accomplish,” Greensburg Salem coach Jody Morgan said. “She's just a great kid.”

Oberdorf, last season's Tribune-Review player of the year, led the Lions to a 17-4 mark (10-0 in Section 4-AAA), by posting a 16-3 record to go along with a 0.91 ERA and 197 strikeouts. Besides holding every pitching record at Greensburg Salem, the Marist College recruit also hit .480 last season with three home runs.

But according to Morgan, Oberdorf makes an impact in other ways as well.

“She's such a good fielder,” Morgan said. “A lot of times you have kids that are pitchers that just pitch and they can't hit and they can't field, but she is a complete player.”

Oberdorf added: “I've been working on a lot of pitches and perfecting everything. I'm hoping that it pays off this season.”

Oberdorf is joined by a strong group of players that look to have the Lions primed to make another deep postseason run this year.

Senior catcher Taylor Mehan returns after being named second-team all-state last year (along with Oberdorf) after hitting .590 with seven home runs and 30 RBI.

Oberdorf said her and Mehan have built a strong rapport as a pitcher and catcher combination, making it easier to have success on the mound.

“We've been pitching and catching together for a long time,” Oberdorf said. “We played basketball all year together, and we just know each other so well it's just easy.”

Juniors Kelly Hutchinson (second base) and Melissa Wagner (third base) and sophomore shortstop Claire Oberdorf also return to lead Greensburg Salem.

Junior Karly Mellinger, a Greensburg Central Catholic transfer, will be a welcome addition to the team as a starter in the outfield.

With as much returning talent as the Lions have, the team has plenty of lofty goals entering the season.

“I think like every year, we're going to compete like we usually do,” Jayne Oberdorf said. “Coach Morgan and our coaches always figure out a way to put the best team out there and do the best we can.

“We want to just go farther in states than we did last year, win the section and to just compete to the highest level that we can.”

Despite all the returning players and high expectations, Morgan admitted it takes some luck along the way to make a deep playoff run and a lot of things have to fall into place. But she is confident her team has what it takes.

“We've won the section the last two years, we've made the playoffs 11 of 12 years. The program's been on solid ground here for the last 15 years,” Morgan said. “I think the kids just want to get to that extra step.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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