The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 25, 2014

TVL softball preview: Greenwood gunning for two titles this year

SUNBURY — Greenwood may have entered the District 3 playoffs last season as the fourth seed, but for the Wildcats, the number before their name might as well have been meaningless.

The Wildcats sent top-seeded Upper Dauphin home in the semifinals and defeated Millersburg in the District 3-A final to reach the state playoffs. While Upper Dauphin won the regular-season league title, Greenwood sent the Trojans packing without a district title. The Wildcats nearly carried their momentum from their district title run into a state playoff victory, losing 6-5 to the District 5 champion, Hyndman Charter, in the first round of the state tournament.

The Wildcats will field one senior on their roster this year in outfielder Becca Stalvey, but will have pieces back from their district championship team, led by junior outfielder Amy Heggenstaller. Heggenstaller hit .413 last season with 17 runs batted in, 11 of which came in league play. Brooke Louden saw the most time in the circle last year of any returning Greenwood player, finishing with five wins.

While the Wildcats stopped them last season, Upper Dauphin has the talent returning this season to potentially return the favor if the two teams meet again in the district playoffs.

Amber Bingaman returns for the Trojans following a year in which she led the league in multiple offensive categories. To put her season in perspective, the then-junior led the league in two of the three traditional Triple Crown categories with five home runs and a .549 average in league play. The second-team all-state honoree finished second in the league in RBIs last year with 20.

“A player like Amber doesn’t come around too often,” Upper Dauphin coach Chad Everhart said. “She’s a special kind of player.”

A transcendent talent, indeed, considering that Bingaman has been just as strong in the circle as at the plate, striking out 142 batters last year.

On days that Bingaman isn’t in the circle, the Trojans can turn to Taylor Brown and have another reliable arm to shut down opposing offenses.

Brown finished with the lowest league earned run average last season at 0.95 and rarely allowed base runners, helping her to win three games with her arm.

Along with the talent of his two pitchers, Everhart said that the experience of Bingaman and Brown will help his team this year.

“(Bingaman and Brown) have been on championship teams before,” Everhart said. “They know what it takes to get back there.”

Upper Dauphin is not the only team in the league with all-state talent returning this year, as Halifax can claim that distinction as well.

Senior outfielder and pitcher Chelsea Konyar will take the field for her senior season after being named first-team all-state as an outfielder last year. At the plate, Konyar hit .488 last year with four home runs and a league-leading 26 RBIs. Inside the circle, she won seven games for Halifax, striking out 39 hitters.

“Chelsea is just one of those kids you love to have on your team,” Halifax coach Tracy Cox said. “She’s the stable point in our lineup.”

Along with Konyar, the Wildcats return Morgan Cox for her junior season after Cox hit .533 with 17 runs batted in against TVL opponents last year.

With their on-field performance and off-the-field leadership, Tracy Cox said that she considers Konyar and Morgan Cox the leaders of her team.

“The other players try to emulate (Chelsea and Morgan),” Tracy Cox said. “They all look up to them for guidance. When those two get going, the other kids are looking to do the same thing.”

For Line Mountain, six starters return for a team which has increased its win total each of the past two seasons, finishing with eight wins last year, seven in the Tri-Valley League.

The Eagles are led by a core group of underclassmen, including juniors Jayci London at third base and Bre Boyer in left field and sophomore Kiana Lukoskie behind the plate.

“As a coach, it’s nice to know that when we get runners on base, those three will be there to drive them in,” Line Mountain coach Jordan Taraschuk said.

Juniata finished in a tie with Line Mountain in the Tri-Valley League last year at 7-7 and the Indians have three seniors returning in the middle of the field to provide offense, led by shortstop Kristen Pray. Pray is coming off of a season in which she hit .579.

Pray will be joined in the infield by fellow senior Megan Shoop at second base and could catch relay throws from another senior in center fielder Micheh Horning, who hit .403 last year.

Millersburg finished last season at 12-7, losing to Greenwood in the District 3 title game. The Indians return Tri-Valley League first-team honoree Marlo Roadcap for her junior season as well as second-team honoree Brooke Shomper. Roadcap led the league last season in strikeouts with 104 against TVL opposition and tied for the league lead with eight wins in the circle.

After a 14-6 record a season ago, Newport will feature two seniors in the infield on a team full of underclassmen. The Buffaloes finished 9-5 in the league last year in a tie for second with Millersburg behind Upper Dauphin.

Coming off of a four-win season, East Juniata will feature one senior on its roster. Junior catcher and shortstop Lydia Hunter led all returning players with a .314 average last season.

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