CURWENSVILLE – For perennial softball power Curwensville Area High School, the 2011 campaign was expected to be a rebuilding season. With one senior, the underclassmen-laden squad was unsure of just what its potential was to be. However, by the end of the year, the Lady Tide was 12-8 and three outs away from pushing an undefeated Smethport team into extra innings in the District IX semifinal.
Smethport had just one hit in the Tide’s last game – a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was a game that weighed heavily on the Black and Gold squad.
One year later, that inexperienced team returns with nine letter-winners and a dream of seeing the District finals and a berth into the PIAA playoffs.
“The one thing that the team said they wanted out of the year was to get to the district finals and play in the state playoffs,” said Head Coach Allen Leigey. I really think that goal is attainable. We have to do some work, but we can get there. I told them we really want to play that second round game at home. The last two years we’ve been tripped up in the semis on the road.”
Curwensville will get there behind the consistent pitching of sophomore Tierra Shope. Shope proved to be a consistent pitcher as she worked every inning for the Tide last season, and struck out 88 batters while walking 61. Batters hit safely 131 times a year ago, and Shope will try to improve on her 3.50 earned run average.
Graduation left just one position to fill for Leigey’s squad as Katie Wriglesworth vacated first base. That position was quickly filled by senior letter-winner Madison Peterman who moved in from left field. Peterman will bat second behind second baseman Taylor Goodman. In the third spot will be catcher Tiffany Carter followed by third baseman Molly Demchak. Shortstop Cheyenne Pentz will bat fifth with the remaining lettermen – Abby Johnson in left field, Hannah Bressler in right field, center fielder Sarah Wriglesworth – rotating through the line-up. The only non-returner to the scorebook will be senior Megan Barrett who will handle the bat as the designated player.
“I really think our strength is in our hitting,” Leigey said. “Hopefully, it will come along quickly in the season. Although we played really good defense in our scrimmages and Shope only gave up two hits against Altoona.”
Leigey has every reason to expect his bats to be a big part of the success this season. Pentz led the team in hitting with a .412 batting average while Goodman (.406), Demchak (.385), Carter (.381) and Peterman (.333) were all solid performers.
Goodman and Carter slapped out 11 extra-base hits last season. Goodman ended the year with five doubles, three triples and three homers. Carter equalled that home-run total while collecting six doubles and two triples. Demchak ripped five doubles, one triple and a homer with Peterman also adding a long-ball, two doubles and a triple.
“Usually, the pitching has the advantage in the early season while the hitters get more looks at the plate,” Leigey said. “We want to change that as quickly as possible. We didn’t strike out in our scrimmage and put the ball into play. We just didn’t finish the job by pushing runs across.
“Overall, I am pleased with the way the preseason is progressing. We have to keep up the hard work to obtain our goals.”
Beyond the top ten players, Leigey will look to the bench to add support. Junior Julia Test and freshman Nikki Harker are other arms in the bullpen. Sophomore infielders Abby Dugo and Kealy Wassil and outfielder Melanie Milliron will be joined by freshman catcher Alaina Stiles looking to improve and make the most of their opportunities.
Assisting Leigey in the dugout will be Dean Lansberry and Jeff McCartney.
The Lady Tide will try to get off on the right foot by traveling to Dubois Central Catholic. The season is scheduled to start at 4:15 on Tuesday.
ROSTER & POSITIONS
Megan Barrett – dp, of, Hannah Bressler – rf, Molly Demchak – 3b, Madison Peterman – 1b.
Tiffany Carter – c, Taylor Goodman – 2b, Abby Johnson – lf, Cheyenne Pentz – ss, Sarah Wriglesworth – cf.
Abby Dugo – if, Melanie Milliron – of, Tierra Shope – p, Julia Test – p, Kealy Wassil – if, 1b.
Nikki Harker – p, Alaina Stiles – c.
Head Coach: Allen Leigey. Assistant Coaches: Dean Lansberry, Jeff McCartney.
27 @ Dubois Central Catholic 4:15
29 BROCKWAY 4:15
2 @ Sheffield DH 3:30
4 @ Ridgway 4:00
11 KANE 4:15
13 @ Keystone 4:15
16 @ Glendale 4:30
17 @ Johnsonburg 4:15
19 @ Elk County Catholic 4:15
23 DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 4:15
25 @ Brockway 4:15
27 PUNXSUTAWNEY 4:15
1 @ Harmony 4:00
3 RIDGWAY 4:15
4 @ Moshannon Valley 4:30
7 @ Kane 4:15
9 JOHNSONBURG 4:15
14 WEST BRANCH 4:15
16 ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC 4:15