Lady Trojan softball team eyes another deep playoff run
Expect not just a lot of fresh faces on the North Pocono softball field this spring, but perhaps even new strategies and a new style of play.
The exodus of a number of power players thanks to graduation has left a host of holes in the Lady Trojans line-up. With a roster that is as demure in depth as are the players on it, adapting to changes comes as both challenging and exciting to Head Coach Mike LaFave.
“We lost a bunch of powerful hitters,” aid LaFave. “We have a lot of smaller girls now and that’s going to mean we’ll have to play a totally different game.
“We have to manufacture runs and we’ll probably play a lot of small ball, but that’s exciting because it keeps things fresh.”
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While the Lady Trojans lost key players in pitching, batting, and fielding roles, they also retained a number of veteran players.
Seniors Chloe Pehanick and Abby Haddock will return at shortstop and 2nd base, respectively while Jamie Hawley and Olivia Gentile are back in the outfield.
Ashdon Clark makes a move to 1st base while Hannah Luethe may see action in several roles. Also in for her second season starting is sophomore Carissa Giordano in center field.
Pehanick closed last season with a .435 average. She drove in 13 runs and scored 20 times herself. Out of her 20 hits, four were doubles and one was a homer.
Haddock tacked up five doubles among her 14 hits for a .341 average. She had nine RBIs and crossed the plate 13 times.
Clark counted one home run, a triple, and a trio of doubles in her 11 hits for a .268 average while hitting in ten runners and scoring nine times.
Hawley batted .308 getting one double and one triple in her eight hits. She scored eight times and came home on five occasions.
Giordano placed three doubles in her 16 hits, drove in nine, and scored 20 runs.
“We’ll shock some teams,” Haddock said. “We still have a good team and I think we’ll rise to the occasion.”
Underclassmen will have a real chance to shine this season.
Stepping into the circle will be sophomore Nicole Zasada, whom LaFave reports has a dynamic change-up and good velocity. She saw some time last season, going 1-0 and collecting seven strikeouts.
Also, looking to get in on the pitching is sophomore Courtney Zaic, who also went 1-0 last year, striking out three batters along the way.
Starting this season as well will be junior Delilah Owen, taking up residence behind the plate and freshman Dayle Smith, who also has a good bat, will be occupying the hot corner.
“The new players have a lot of potential and are getting better,” Hawley confided. “They are working hard and willing to do what they need to do to improve.”
“The upperclassmen are doing a lot to help the new players and the new players are taking that direction well,” Haddock added.
“The team has very good chemistry.”
On the Slate
Last year, the Lady Trojans went 10-3 in Lackawanna League play and claimed the top spot in Division II before getting bounced in the District Two AAA quarterfinals by Pittston Area.
Practice time so far this season has been brief and outdoor time has been even rarer. Late winter weather shut down operations for nearly a week and forced the team to retreat to the gym. It also scratched several scrimmages and postponed pre-season play.
“We might not get to play on our own field until the league opener,” said LaFave.
The North Pocono lasses are due to take on Hazleton in a scrimmage this Saturday at the Wyoming Valley Sports Dome in Wilkes-Barre.
They stay on the road for games at Whitehall on March 28 and are tentatively scheduled to host Lakeland in March 30.
League play commences on April 5 at Paupack and continues with a home game against Honesdale on April 6, followed by a road trip to Wyoming Area on April 8.
“We have a good pitcher and everyone has been working hard,” said Pehanick. “I think we can beat a lot of teams and create a lot of upsets too.”
Coaches and players agree that just about anything can happen among the Division II teams.
Both Paupack and Delaware Valley are bringing new pitchers into the game this season, and along with Honesdale, should be fairly competitive in batting and fielding too.
Largely unlucky at the plate last season, a new slew of pitchers in the division could be favorable to a veteran laden Western Wayne as well.
The shift from AAA to the new AAAAA class could pose some challenges to the Trojans post-season.
While it moves them away from competitive smaller schools it puts them in a bracket with equally competitive larger schools.
How that will affect NP’s chance for a district title has yet to be seen.