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Last updated: March 30. 2013 11:04PM - 3184 Views
By - jerzar@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6394



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The 330 victories, two state titles, six District 2 championships and numerous Wyoming Valley Conference crowns won't fade from the program's history any time soon.
And neither will the guy who coached Nanticoke to those accomplishments – Gary Williams.
No, Williams isn't planning a comeback after 22 years at the helm of the Trojanettes. But he certainly not disappearing from the local softball landscape.
Williams is enjoying his retirement by taking in the sport at his own pace. He helps out coaching younger kids on travel teams. He went to see some of his former players take the field for King's College. And he pokes around the Nanticoke program on occasion.
“It's been OK,” Williams said. “Obviously, I miss it a little bit. I miss the competition, I miss coaching the girls. But getting out to watch the games keeps me involved. And helping out with some of the younger travel teams scratches the itch so to speak.”
The daily grind of coaching is something Williams doesn't miss. He's content with letting Ryan Stetz, his assistant for three years, take over that chore.
“He is doing a great job,” Williams said. “I've dropped in a couple times to watch practice and just touch base. He's well organized and knows his business. The kids seem to be responding positively to him. They had a scrimmage (last) Saturday and I liked what I saw.”
This season will also be one of transition on the field as well. Nanticoke graduated 13 players from a team that came within a game of playing for another state title. In their place will be underclassmen who could mature along with Stetz, a 1996 Nanticoke graduate who was a standout center fielder in high school.
“It's been exciting,” Stetz said. “The girls came in with a really good attitude and their attitude has been contagious. It should be an exciting year.”
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
Six Times Leader All-WVC selections return.
Margaret Bridge, Berwick: The Division 1 West MVP last season, Bridge will give the Dawgs a formidable presence on the mound. She had 97 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA in 102 innings last season, while hitting .315 and driving in a team-leading 12 runs.
Becky Demko, Hazleton Area: The Division 1 East MVP as a junior, Demko shows excellent control on the mound. She was 12-4 last year with a WVC-best 0.51 ERA, 98 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 96 innings. She also hit .348 with 17 RBI.
Alex Holtz, Wyoming Area: The senior is a dual threat for the Warriors as she enters her senior season. She pitched 80 innings with a 2.63 ERA and 64 strikeouts last year. At the plate, she paced Wyoming Area with a team-best .414 batting average.
Emily Rinehimer, Hanover Area: The junior second baseman is expected to be a stabilizing force on a young Hawkeyes team. She batted .469 from the lead-off spot last year with 12 RBI and led the team with 17 runs scored and two triples. She is also a standout on defense.
Rachel Ritz, Crestwood: Ritz made a smooth transition from infield to center field last year. The senior is expected to be a catalyst for the offense after batting .411 as a junior and pacing the Comets in stolen bases, walks, runs and on-base percentage.
Maria Trivelpiece, Hazleton Area: Trivelpiece was the only freshman to earn all-WVC honors last year. The second baseman led the Cougars in batting average (.400), on-base percentage (.483) and walks (11). She swiped 10 bases and knocked in 14 runs while committing just four errors in 24 games.
DIVISIONAL CHANGES
The WVC will maintain its three-division format, but under new names and with a few minor tweaks. Here's how they'll look:.
Division 1: This is essentially the old Division 1 East, with holdovers Coughlin, Crestwood, Hazleton Area, Nanticoke and Pittston Area joined by newcomer Wyoming Valley West. Holy Redeemer is no longer part of the division.
Although Valley West has struggled recently – 7-35 in the last three seasons –the Spartans will be playing more schools similar in enrollment.
Division teams play each other twice and Division 2 teams once for a 15-game schedule.
Crestwood, Hazleton Area and Nanticoke are expected to battle for the divisional title.
Division 2: Basically the former Division 1 West. Berwick, Dallas, Tunkhannock and Wyoming Area are back, while Valley West has departed. Lake-Lehman moves from the old Division 2 to the new Division 2 to fill the void.
Lehman has been solid in recent seasons and should be a capable opponent. Plus, the Black Knights get to play Back Mountain rival Dallas twice. They haven't faced each other in the regular season in quite some time.
Teams will play a 14-game schedule, facing each divisional opponent twice and Division 1 teams once.
Berwick and Wyoming Area appear to be the frontrunners, but this will be an ultra-competitive division.
Division 3: Former Division 2 foes make up the bulk of the division – GAR, Hanover Area, Meyers, MMI Prep, Northwest and Wyoming Seminary. Holy Redeemer joins the grouping.
There are only four schools with smaller enrollments in the WVC, so Redeemer probably fits this division better than being lumped in with the bigger schools. The Royals also made a nice – albeit unexpected – run in the District 2 Class 3A playoffs last year, so they should fare well this season.
Teams play home-and-away series for a 12-game regular season.
Hanover Area and Northwest finished one-two last year, but have holes to fill. Nonetheless, they and Redeemer look like the main contenders.
DISTRICT CHANGES
Seven teams have changed PIAA classifications for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Class 4A will have six teams (including District 4 Williamsport), down from seven. Class 3A goes from 14 to 15 teams. Class 2A jumps from 14 to 16, while Class A shrinks from eight to six.
Teams changing classes are: Abington Heights (4A to 3A); Holy Redeemer (3A to 2A); Lackawanna Trail (2A to A); Lake-Lehman (2A to 3A), Mountain View (A to 2A); Northwest (A to 2A); and Wyoming Seminary (A to 2A).

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