The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

June 1, 2014

H.S. softball: With Konyar back in circle, Halifax is back in states

NEWVILLE — Two years ago, Chelsea Konyar went into Halifax coach Tracy Cox’s office and told the long-time Wildcats coach that she didn’t want to pitch anymore. Instead, Konyar wanted to focus on playing in the outfield. After all, that’s where she wanted to play when college would roll around and it was where she enjoyed playing in summer ball.

Despite being a little disappointed she was losing a pitcher, Cox issued a challenge to Konyar.

“I said, ‘Now Chelsea, if this is what you really want, if your dream is to go to college and play ball — and she is, she signed with Mercy — then you need to take on a bigger leadership roll.’ I can tell she took that seriously.”

As fate would have it, Konyar is once again back inside the circle this year, having taken on that responsibility and leadership when Halifax was without a pitcher.

“I really do (enjoy my leadership role) because I love the game of softball and if someone’s struggling, I also love to help them because I’m continuing my career in college and I know that when I go to college, I’m going to want seniors helping me out with anything I need,” Konyar said. “I just like to give back and help.”

While she might rather prefer to be in center field robbing hits, she’s taken on that leadership role in the circle and realizes it’s what’s best for the team, not just what’s best for her.

“I realized that it’s not about me in high school, it’s about the team. I knew my junior and senior years I had to pitch for the team,” Konyar said.

That selfless act of putting Halifax first has paid dividends, as Konyar has helped guide the Wildcats to their first District 3 title and first PIAA berth since 2002.

Halifax (14-8) plays HOPE for Hyndman Charter today at Big Spring High School at 3:30 p.m. in the Class A playoffs.

Konyar hasn’t lost a step in the circle after focusing mostly on being an outfielder. She has nearly 70 strikeouts on the season and is 14-6 in the circle, with a one-hitter, two no-hitters and two shutouts to her résumé.

After starting the season 8-0, many including Cox thought they would easily breeze through the Tri-Valley League and into the playoffs, but then came a speed bump for Halifax. The Wildcats proceeded to have an unlikely losing skid, dropping five straight and questioning the heart of the team. The Wildcats regained their composure to take the No. 3 seed in districts and downed Upper Dauphin and Millersburg in back-to-back games in districts.

“It shows we have a lot of character and potential. For a team to start well, then go on this huge slump when we’ve beaten teams before, then we lost to them, it shows that we can do anything we put our minds to,” Konyar said.

The Hornets don’t have a go-to pitcher, rather rotating three players all season. That trio is also Hyndman Charter’s top hitter.

Sophomore Kayla Wilt leads the Hornets with an impressive .571 batting average, having 28 hits through 18 games, a team-best 29 RBIs, six doubles, seven triples and three home runs. Senior Jess Ringler comes in with a .484 average while sophomore Kadi Cosgrove has a .375 average.

Of the three pitchers though, Cosgrove has the most games thrown in the circle with a 6-4 record.

Cox and Konyar both agree that seeing talented players in the Tri-Valley League, such as Millersburg’s Marlo Roadcap and Upper Dauphin’s duo of Taylor Brown and Amber Bingaman, will be beneficial for states.

“They’re never afraid to get in and hit off someone throwing 60 miles per hour. You’re hitting off a pitcher who’s going to a Division I college,” Cox added. “If you can hit off (La Salle-bound Roadcap), you can hit off anybody. They took that to heart and realized they’re good. I think a lot of times they feel like, well we got to states, we got here, so whatever happens, happens. But they realize they’re as good as that other team that got there too.”

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