Seton-La Salle softball lineup bolstered by returning starters
Head coach Jay Krull welcomed back five returning starters at the start of preseason practice for the Seton-La Salle softball team.
All five are integral to the defending section champion's plans for this season.
They are Taylor Mercurio, a senior shortstop/third baseman/outfielder; Lauren Zola, a junior pitcher; Dani Dadig, a junior center fielder; Kaylee Boehme, a junior shortstop/outfielder; and Lexi Mercuri, a sophomore second baseman.
“We have high expectations,” Krull said. “We want to have a strong showing during section play, and definitely a longer playoff run. We're looking to be a more complete team.”
The Lady Rebels actually have enjoyed sensational success in Section 1-AA over the past three seasons.
Seton-La Salle has won the past three section championships, and has lost only one section game in that span.
Seton was perfect in league play, at 10-0 and 14-0, the past two years, preceded by a 13-1 slate in 2011.
The Lady Rebels have compiled a 40-3 regular-season record over the past three seasons, with two winning streaks of 11 games and another that extended through 14 contests.
Overall, Seton-La Salle is 42-6 since the 2011 campaign, including last year's 12-2 overall mark, and has advanced to the second round of the WPIAL playoffs twice, and to the first round once.
“We have a good mix of upperclassman and underclassman; it's a dynamic group,” Krull said. “After last season, I think the team is motivated. They have been leaders on and off the field.
“It's great group of young ladies with a lot of character; they never quit.”
Taylor Mercurio had a monster year offensively batting in the leadoff position for the Lady Rebels last season.
Mercurio hit .560, with a team-high five doubles, two triples, one home run and 14 runs batted in.
She also led the club in hits, with 28 in a team-leading 50 at-bats; runs scored, with 20; and stolen bases, with 15.
“Taylor is a lefty slapper who (was) a very tough out as our leadoff hitter,” Krull said. “She's also solid in the field.”
Zola, a right-handed hurler and third-year starter on the mound, compiled a 12-2 record in 2013, with seven shutouts and 150 strikeouts. She has posted a 27-4 overall record the past two years.
Zola hit .413 last season, as did Dadig, who led the club in doubles, with six; and also clouted one home run to go along with 14 RBIs.
Along with Taylor Mercurio, Cleo Helton and Danielle Merlina bring a veteran presence and senior leadership to this year's team.
Two other junior team members are Tomasina Arrigo and Amanda Jeziorski.
Along with Lexi Mercurio, sophomores looking to make an impact in 2014 are catcher Alyssa Miller, outfielders Kelsie Klein and Liv Matvey, third baseman/designated hitter Annie Borofski, Katie Smith and Kiersten Swanson.
Top freshman prospects at the varsity level include Julie Curry, Emilee Mazza and Inga Haser.
“Julie should contributed immediately,” Krull said.
Seton-La Salle outscored the opposition by a 110-16 overall margin during the 2013 regular season, averaging 8.5 runs per contest.
The Lady Rebels fell to Beaver, 10-3, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
“We had a very good regular season, and a little disappointing playoff game,” Krull said.
Seton-La Salle took first place in Section 1-AA last year, followed by Keystone Oaks, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Carlynton, Avonworth and Quaker Valley.
“The section will be tight,” Krull said. “It should be a battle between Keystone Oaks, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Avonworth, in no particular order.”
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.