It may take a while before anyone can prove themselves due to a harsh winter season and a less-than-cooperative spring. But whenever things truly get going, it should be an exciting season in Region 3 softball this year.
Cambridge Springs, Cochranton, Maplewood, Saegertown and Union City all return a wealth of talent to the diamond in 2014, including a total of 11 all-region selections. The biggest questions just might be how Maplewood and Saegertown manage to fill the voids left on the mound and whether or not some of last year’s big bats can keep it going in 2014.
In the circle
Cambridge Springs, Cochranton and Union City bring experience back to the circle this year with Kayla Parkin pitching for the Spa, Natalie Brock with the Redbirds and Noelle Wienczkowski twirling for the Bears.
Parkin is already off to a pretty good start for the Blue Devils. She is 2-0 with a 1.75 earned run average in two starts.
Brock was one of the most efficient pitchers in the region the last two years. A year ago, Brock, now a senior, threw 102 innings and walked just 11. She finished with a 1.65 earned run average.
Wienczkowski had a 2.92 earned run average last season and is already off to a strong 2-0 start in 2014.
Saegertown will replace reigning Meadville Tribune Player of the Year and region Pitcher of the Year Arianna Hanley. Maplewood will replace Taylor Smith, who was a Region 3 first-team pitcher last year.
The Tigers did get some work from Madalyn Nicols last season, and she proved she is more than up to the challenge of taking on the starting role.
Nicols, in three appearances, was 2-0 with a 0.82 earned run average. Teams batted just .089 against her, and of the 56 batters she faced, she struck out 15.
But Nicols is expected to reassume her catching duties for the Tigers, giving way to sophomore Brianna Scott, who pitched just an inning last season.
“Our expectations for pitching are just as high as they were with Taylor,” Maplewood coach Hannah Borkovich said. “Bri has been working extremely hard. My confidence in her is as great or greater than any other pitcher I’ve worked with.
“She is not only the center of the defense, but she takes her role and responsibility very seriously and is willing to do whatever it takes to help her team.”
At Saegertown, Hanley was the go-to, making all but two starts for the Panthers in their run to the District 10 Class A championship. Hanley threw 122 innings and carried a 2.24 earned run average.
The Panthers have a number of pitching options to turn to this season, including senior Brooke Parker, juniors Lexi Palmer and Emma Osborne or sophomore Becca Siple. Osborne was a force to be reckoned with during her youth softball days in Saegertown before moving out of state. She is back and gives the Panthers a fresh arm.