Shaler softball young, ready to play
The Shaler softball team is like a cycle of success. Often a rather young team takes the field only exceed expectations and mature to a powerhouse over the next couple of years.
It may seem on paper that the team is rebuilding, but that sometimes is just an illusion until one learns the names that will become synonymous with success.
The core of youth starts behind the plate with sophomore A.J. Nicholas. Nicholas, who also can pitch, slugged a two-run homer in her fist at-bat this season. Also seeing time behind the plate will be Ashleigh Schelling and freshman Jacey Scott.
Throwing to the young group of catchers is a freshman pitcher in Brianna Dobson. In a section game against Fox Chapel, Dobson fanned 12 batters, another good first outing for one of coach Skip Palmer's youngsters.
Starting at first base will be senior Taylor Brown, and backing her up will be fellow senior Cassidy Ford. Palmer said Ford will see some work, and freshman Amanda Sartori will help back up Brown, as well.
Second base will be taken over by last year's starting third baseman Julia Strackhouse, and shortstop will return three-year starter Maddie Mulig. Backing up the returning talent will be another youngster, sophomore Abbey Hummel.
Sophomore Rachel Newman will play third base, and Hummel will back up that position, too.
Palmer is two deep in the outfield at each position as left field will be sophomore Mia Sipple and senior Kristen Rost; center field will be starter Haley Dangler, a sophomore, and junior Emily Matthews; right field will be held down by senior Haley Stedeford and Michaela Golden.
Palmer likes the mix of players he has this season.
“They are eager to learn and play,” Palmer said. “Many of them played JV for me, and they are very hungry. They have played fall ball for me, and we have been together for a while. The young kids have hit the ground running. There may have been some nerves, but I thought they did really well.
“We are reloaded, and I expect we will get stronger as the season goes on.”
Jerry Clark is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.