Connellsville softball focusing on gaining playoff berth
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Connellsville softball team has picked up exactly eight wins in each of the past three seasons, none of which have ended with a trip to the WPIAL playoffs.
To reverse that trend, new coach Vaughn Hempfield has tried to create a competitive atmosphere around his team right from the start of workouts and practices.
“We have a lot of hard workers and we have girls that are aggressive and that makes for better competition,” Hempfield said. “A lot of girls can be plugged in anywhere, so if they just be themselves and take care of business, we should be okay.”
Hempfield is replacing Tom Nickelson, who resigned following the 2013 season. A 1980 graduate of Swissvale High School, Hempfield spent several seasons as a professional baseball player in the Kansas City Royals organization in the early 1980s. This will be Hempfield's first experience as a varsity coach.
“This will be interesting,” Hempfield said. “So far, it's been a joy and I think the girls are buying in. I'm just getting to know them and who the leaders are on the team. We have a nice mix from seniors to freshmen and we're trying to create a competitive spirit.”
Hempfield, who will be assisted by pitching coach Felicia Domasky, has a large number of players from which he can craft a team. The current roster is comprised of 28 girls.
The infield should be solid with juniors Kelsi Burkholder (third base), Alyssa Orndorff (shortstop) Jackie Cramer (second base) and senior Jena Bukovac (first base) likely to see plenty of playing time. Freshman Francesca Stefano has a shot to be the starting catcher.
Hempfield plans to use at least two pitchers. Junior Emily Keslar is scheduled to be a starter with Cramer coming in as a closer.
“With the new coach and a lot of girls, I think we'll have a strong team,” Cramer said. “If we play as a team, we can probably make the playoffs.”
Hempfield pointed out there are plenty of players in the mix for playing time in the flex position in the batting order , as well as the three positions in the outfield. Senior Marissa Keffer is a top candidate to play in the outfield. Keffer said she believes the team is capable of bigger and better things this season.
“Now that we have more experience, I think we'll be a lot better,” Keffer said.
According to Hempfield, being strong at the basics will go a long way in helping the Falcons get back to being a playoff contender.
“We have a decent infield and our outfield will be pretty quick, so we just have to make the routine plays,” Hempfield said.
Hempfield also noted that Connellsville suffered a number of narrow losses last year. He's hoping those games can be reversed this season.
“If we can get a couple of those, we can get in the playoffs,” Hempfield said. “That will be our goal, to get to the playoffs.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Belle Vernon scores 4 runs in wild 7th inning to capture WPIAL title
- Ryan tosses 1-hitter as Hempfield wins 3rd WPIAL championship
- Taliani’s 3 homers propel Deer Lakes to 2nd WPIAL softball title in 4 seasons
- Jefferson-Morgan captures school’s 1st WPIAL softball title
- Gorman: Team Dugan gets gold, like a champ
- Class AA championship notebook: Deer Lakes’ 4th inning outburst sparks victory
- Greensburg Central Catholic softball made vast strides after 2-win season in 2014
- Edwards leads Deer Lakes softball into WPIAL title game
- Breaking down the 2015 WPIAL softball championships
- Moniteau defeats Karns City in District 9 softball championship game
- WPIAL Class AA softball championship capsule