Southmoreland softball coach finishes successful 1st season
Todd Bunner had a lot about which to be happy in his first season as head coach of the Southmoreland softball team.
Sure, there's disappointment in not qualifying for the postseason, but there were many positives.
The team amassed an 8-7 record — 6-6 in the ultra competitive Section 3-AAA, which featured WPIAL champion Thomas Jefferson.
Plus, it's a squad with a lot of girls returning for the 2015 season who made significant contributions and gained valuable experience in 2014.
“I'm pleased with the first season,” Bunner said recently. “A lot of good things happened. We scored a lot of runs. We were very competitive and we wanted to be competitive in our section which was extremely difficult.”
Offense was definitely a strength for a team that posted a sparking .364 team batting average and averaged seven runs a game.
The Scotties actually defeated Thomas Jefferson 9-3 April 7 and Bunner said they had the Jaguars down 2-0 late in an April 17 contest, before some late errors cost the Scotties in a 3-2 loss.
“If we really need to do one thing, it's eliminate errors,” Bunner said. “In the first half of the (section) season we were 5-1 and made very few errors. In the second half of the season, we made enough errors at key times. One thing I'm going to concentrate on is getting them confidence. There were a lot of freshman errors. With a little bit of seasoning they probably won't make a lot of those errors next year.”
As for those girls who will return, let's just say Bunner will not exactly have a bare cupboard next season.
His top three hitters will be back including his daughter Briana, who just finished her sophomore season with a .465 batting average. Freshman Olivia Porter — a sparkplug infielder — batted .424 and led the team with 25 hits. Junior Kristen Suhan checked in with a .395 batting average.
Speaking of Suhan she'll be part of an experienced returning pitching staff with freshmen Adeline Nicholson and Katie Trosi-Clark, all whom saw extensive action on a staff that also featured Syracuse recruit Anna Marie Gatti.
Trosi-Clark posted four wins with 40 strikeouts and a 2.47 earned run average, while Suhan was 2-2 with an ERA of 2.05.
“I have three pitchers coming back,” Bunner said. “That's a nice thing to have.”
Other key players coming back next year include Tricia Bungard and Kylee Wisoloski. Wisoloski may be counted on to replace Seton Hill recruit Kelsey Kuhns at catcher.
“That's going to be my most difficult position to replace,” Bunner said of Kuhns. “She only made two errors all year. She had a .979 fielding percentage. It's very hard to replace Kelsey.”
Realignment will shift the Scotties to Section 4-AAA in 2015 with teams such as Yough, Mt. Pleasant and Greensburg Salem, which advanced to the WPIAL and PIAA semifinals this season and captured the WPIAL Class AAA crown in 2013.
But a couple seasons in Section 3-AAA with not only TJ, but schools such as Elizabeth Forward, West Mifflin and Belle Vernon should have the team ready for all comers.
“They're battle-tested,” Bunner said. “If you go into the playoffs, you're not blowing teams out. You're playing close games against good teams. We'll be ready because of the competition.”
Bunner took over the program after two years of guiding the middle school team and said the transition went well.
“I was getting my feet wet at the high school,” Bunner said. “Coaching high school is just a little different. We'll be more accustom to how things go next year. It will be a little bit smoother for us.”
Bunner said the team will start working toward next season with fall ball, then right after the Christmas holiday, they'll take to the batting cages before embarking on another season.
“We're excited to get the summer season over, and get high school back in,” Bunner said. “You get that taste in your mouth when you see who wins the WPIAL and it gives you something to work toward.”
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.