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Expectations again high for Ligonier Valley softball

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Pribisco | For The Dispatch
Blairsville’s Cassidy Edmundson waits for the umpire's call as she puts Abby Salancy of Ligonier Valley out at second base during a Heritage Conference softball game March 29 at Ligonier's Friendship Park.

Another year has commenced for the for the Ligonier Valley softball team, but it doesn't mean the expectations have wavered.

The Rams will look to improve on making it to the second round of the state tournament from a season ago.

“Our expectation is the usual like every year. We are trying to be solid as possible as a team,” coach Mark Zimmerman said. “We hope to be in the race in the district playoffs and states at the end of year. That is the standard that has been set, and we are not changing that.”

This will be a tall task after the graduation of a decorated senior class led by Maddy Grimm. With the combination of returning only three starters from last season's team and the potential season-ending injury to senior pitcher Rachel Wallace's throwing shoulder, the Rams will experience some turbulence in the early part of the season.

“Maddy was a good example of a player who practices well and did everything well,” Zimmerman said. “The girls know about her success but know they don't have the same abilities as her. Some of the freshmen know of Maddy. I believe she left an impression for those to try to fill in her shoes and her work ethic.”

The Rams (2-1) are led by sophomore right fielder Kari Kuhn, who is trying to do her best Grimm impression to start the season. Kuhn leads the team with seven RBIs on six hits. Kuhn has three extra-base hits, including two triples and a double.

“They will learn more and more as the year goes a long. You learn more from a loss then from a win. In a loss, you think to yourself, ‘Well, we should done better' and you know where we could correct things,” Zimmerman said.

“They will start feeling more comfortable in their new roles and go out there take charge. They are reacting right now and not taking charge. They are a nice bunch of kids that have been working hard so far.”

Ligonier Valley's three returning starters include two juniors — catcher Brittany Lynch and second baseman Hannah Yeskey — and senior first baseman Courtney Frappier. Yeskey leads the trio with two singles and three RBIs.

“We are young. We have our usual tough nonconference schedule. The girls will be battle-tested by the end of the season and when the district playoffs come around this year,” Zimmerman said.

On the mound, the Rams are counting on freshman Kailee Lear. The Rams started the season with a 10-8 victory over Saegertown and a 15-0 win over United. They lost a tough 4-1 decision to Blairsville.

“The loss to Blairsville was a good game. We had plenty of chances to tie and win the game,” Zimmerman said.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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