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Entering coach's 2nd season, Quaker Valley softball looking to get on right track

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Time is one thing on Quaker Valley softball coach John Tortorea's side this season.

Tortorea was hired just three weeks before the start of the 2012 season and the short turnaround showed in the results. The Quakers finished with a 4-13 mark, including a 1-13 record in Section 1-AA play, and finished the season with eight straight losses.

Expectations have been raised for 2013 though. Quaker Valley graduated only two players from last season's team and, with a full year of experience and offseason workouts, it may turn out to be a bounce back season.

“Last season, I was in a spot where I didn't know the girls well, and I was trying to implement a new system,” Tortorea said. “We started four freshmen and two sophomores with only one senior. It was a wake-up call to what high school softball is about.

“They didn't realize it is a commitment for 12 months of the year to fine tune everything.”

Sara Francis returns as the top pitcher for the Quakers. The senior is a four-year starter and will provide the team a consistent presence on the mound.

“The most important position in any level of softball is the pitcher,” Tortorea said. “She knows how to attack the batter. She isn't just a thrower but has developed into a pitcher.”

Sophomore Emily Dietrich will also get time on the mound.

Senior Rachel Smith is a three-year starter for the Quakers and will handle second base. Junior Alexis Glenn will return to first base for the Quakers.

“She has all the talent in the world,” Tortorea said. “First base is a huge strength for us.”

Sophomores who got playing time last season include outfielder/catcher Emma Fortuna, outfielder Molly Harkins and shortstop Cassie Heath.

Glenn will be the team's power-hitter and Smith also is expected to provide the team solid at-bats. Dietrich will be the Quakers leadoff hitter.

“She did a nice job last season of getting contact,” Tortorea said. “She had a high on-base percentage.”

Section 1-AA will remain largely the same, except for the departures of Brentwood to Section 4-AA and Bishop Canevin to Class A.

Tortorea said things likely will play out the same way it did in the section last year with Seton-La Salle and Keystone Oaks battling for the top two spots.

But with a playoff spot still in play, the Quakers have a chance to end a playoff drought that dates back to 1998.

“We already established our goal,” Tortorea said. “The first thing I asked them was what they wanted to do, and they said ‘lets make the playoffs.' ”

The Quakers are scheduled to travel to Seton-La Salle today, Thursday. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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