Greensburg Salem junior makes strong recovery

Paul Schofield
| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 10:15 p.m.

Greensburg Salem softball coach Jody Morgan said that junior shortstop Claire Oberdorf amazes her on a consistent basis.

This comes after Oberdorf injured her right knee playing basketball a day after Greensburg Salem was eliminated in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals last June.

The injury forced Oberdorf to miss the summer AAU basketball and travel softball seasons and cut into her high school basketball season.

She spent six months rehabbing the knee and credits her trainer Tony Sanks for getting her back on the court before January.

“He pushed me hard to come back,” Oberdorf said. “He's an excellent physical therapist.”

Oberdorf hasn't missed a beat this softball season. She's batting .609 with 14 hits in 23 at bats. She has six home runs, including five in consecutive games, four doubles and a triple.

Oberdorf also has five walks and 15 RBI. She's only struck out once.

She now has 15 career home runs, a school best, and she tied Taylor Mehan with a season-high seven home runs in 2013.

Oberdorf helped Greensburg Salem, ranked No. 1 by the Tribune-Review, to a 9-0 record in Section 4-AAA and 9-1 overall. The Golden Lions only loss came against Section 1-AAAA co-leader Penn-Trafford.

“I've never coached a kid that good,” Morgan said. “She has power, speed and agility. She's the total package.

“I'm actually amazed how well she's recovered. She still makes plays that are unbelievable like going from first to third on a bunt standing up and making incredible defensive plays.”

Greensburg Salem is the returning WPIAL Class AAA champions and Oberdorf said the team is capable of repeating.

“Even though we're missing three starters from last year, we're playing well as a team,” Oberdorf said. “We're hitting the ball and making plays. Melissa Wagner is our pitcher now and she's doing great. She's strong on the mound. If we get runs for her, we're good.”

Oberdorf said she doesn't do anything special at the plate. She's just looking to hit the ball hard.

She started a recent game against Mt. Pleasant (April 21), one of the tougher teams in the section, by hitting the first pitch over the fence for a home run.

“That home run energized the team and kind of deflated Mt. Pleasant,” Oberdorf said. “I have a lot of good hitters behind me. Karly (Mellinger) bats second followed by Kellie (Hutchinson) and Melissa. They're ready to bring girls in.”

One thing that frustrates Oberdorf and her coach is the number of games lost by the rainy weather.

“We started March 3, and here it is May 1, and we've only played 10 games,” Morgan said. “I believe we can repeat, but it would be nice to get some more games in before the start of the WPIAL playoffs.”

The playoffs are scheduled to begin May 10.

Oberdorf already has committed to play softball at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where she'll play two seasons with her sister, Jayne.

“I just love the campus and the coach,” Oberdorf said. “He's a good guy, and softball is my favorite sport.”

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