Knoch softball team strengthened by senior leadership
Knoch is ready to kick off the rust — and icicles — from a long offseason and redeem itself on the softball diamond.
Knoch finished last season 9-8 and 5-5 in Section 5-AAA.
The Knights fell victim to a four-team tiebreaker and just missed the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
To make things even more frustrating, two of the Knights' five section wins came against section-champion and rival Mars, yet it wasn't enough for Knoch to qualify for the postseason.
Few things mean more to a team than having depth at virtually every position and leadership led by an irreplaceable group of seniors.
The Knights are led by three seniors in shortstop Bethany Hay, catcher Abbi Smithmyer and pitcher Codi Reed, a senior group that has been together in the starting lineup since the first game of their freshman year.
Knoch has a total of four seniors, as Schaely Renfrew brings valuable experience as a utility player.
“We've got a nice core of seniors back,” Knoch coach Tim Knappenberger said.
“I think we should challenge for a section title and get into the playoffs.”
Reed led the team last season with 38 RBI and belted three home runs.
As a pitcher, she sported a 7-3 record with 26 strikeouts.
When she's not pitching, she will anchor the hot corner at third base.
“My goal is to help lead the team to WPIALs this year and, hopefully, we can take our section,” Reed said.
“On the field, (the seniors) are inseparable. We trust each other and have each other's back. It really helps because we know where our faults are and know what our strong points are.”
Knappenberger said he couldn't ask for a better group of seniors and will miss them when they graduate.
“It starts with a positive atmosphere in practice,” Knappenberger said.
“All three since they've stepped in as freshmen have been positive, motivating softball players.”
Joining the list of returning starters are junior third baseman Abbie Thrower, junior first baseman Chandler Krelow and junior centerfielder Hayle Fox.
Thrower will be entering her third year as a starter; Chandler and Fox will be in their second year as starters.
“Not only do they bring experience, but they've been consistent ballplayers throughout their whole careers,” Knappenberger said.
“I think they're poised because of the experience and the fundamentals they bring. The sky is the limit.”
Knoch also could receive contributions from two freshmen in Sydney Natili and Avery Keller.
Knappenberger describes both players as bringing solid fundamental skills to the team. He also anticipates them playing the outfield.
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.