As the Wyoming Valley Conference softball season ends and the District 2 playoffs begin to take shape, here are some questions that deserve answering.
Which WVC team has the best chance at winning a district tournament?
Hazleton Area for a few reasons.
First, the Cougars have the best combination of offense, defense and pitching, with hurler Becky Demko throwing her second no-hitter of the season last week. Secondly, they have the shortest path, with only two victories needed in all likelihood.
However, there is a caveat. Williamsport has one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in the state in Alexis Bower. Bower, a St. Francis recruit, followed up a perfect game recently with a no-hitter — both in the same day. She was the Class 4A Player of the Year in the state last season.
Berwick, Tunkhannock and Wyoming Area are the WVC’s top Class 3A teams. Which has the best chance to make the D2-3A title game?
Put the names in a hat and pick one out; there’s not much difference between the three.
Berwick might have an edge because Margaret Bridge, an All-WVC selection last year, has been throwing her best stuff down the stretch. But Wyoming Area and Tunkhannock aren’t far behind.
Wyoming Area has veteran Alex Holtz, while Tunkhannock’s circle duo of Kirsten Gilpin and Erin Smith has exceeded expectations. Both were jayvee pitchers a year ago.
All three teams can hit and field as well, so it might come down to a few lucky breaks.
Who do you think will win the four district tournaments?
Based on a less-than-thorough analysis, I’m going with Williamsport in 4A, Valley View in 3A, Nanticoke in 2A and Lackawanna Trail in Class A.
Those could change once the brackets are released later this week. Chances are Nanticoke will have some tough hurdles to clear.
What’s one thing you would like to see change in 2014?
It would be great if all teams would submit statistics to The Times Leader every week.
The goal this season was to run individual leaders in batting, RBI and runs in each division. But with minimal cooperation, that was impossible. It has been that way in the past as well.
We believe the girls deserve credit for their accomplishments. All the coaches should feel that way as well.
Who has the best field and who has the worst from a fan’s perspective?
Based on the ones I’ve been to, I love Hanover Area’s field. You can be right on top of the action and home plate isn’t obscured by tarps.
That said, a fence needs to be erected between Hanover Area’s on-deck area and the bleachers. One slip of the bat and fans could be falling like bowling pins. Seriously, it is a liability issue.
As for the worst, I hate to pick on the alma mater, but it’s Wyoming Area.
It’s surrounded by a fence high enough to be at a minimum security prison, minus the razor wire. Sight lines are terrible down the left-field line (people can’t sit down the right-field line), forcing fans to sit in the outfield to see the game.
Which team has the best uniforms, which has the worst?
I like the all-white look for softball and baseball, so Wyoming Area gets the nod for the best. The green and gold trim is done perfectly without being gaudy.
The worst is Hazleton Area because of the numbers. They’re too thick, making it hard to distinguish a 25 from a 26 from a 28 from a 29.
If you could recruit one underclassman to start a high school team, and the PIAA wouldn’t find out about the illegal activity, who would it be?
Holy Redeemer catcher Chelsea Skrepenak. The freshman is as close to a five-tool player you’ll find, meaning she can hit for power and average, field, throw and run. Her speed on the basepaths is astounding. She has only one double because she’s too fast to just stop at second.
What is the definition of insanity in softball?
Playing third base.
Third base is 60 feet from home plate, and these girls often creep in 10 or so feet closer. The ball comes at them like a bouncing rocket. Dental insurance should be a requirement.
What is one thing that you didn’t expect?
Dang, everybody loves to bunt. It’s almost a given that once someone gets on first, she’ll be moved to second via sacrifice bunt. Doesn’t matter who’s up, the clean-up batter or No. 9 hitter, there’s going to be a bunt.
What was your favorite moment of the season?
After a productive inning at the plate, a team was taking the field when the head coach yelled out, “Let’s not have a lull.”
To which a player responded, “Coach, what’s a lull?”
What was your least favorite moment of the season?
Backhoes. It seems every time I’m trying to get to a game I get caught behind a backhoe. And backhoe driving etiquette isn’t what it used to be. It wasn’t long ago a backhoe would pull off to the side of the road to let traffic pass. Now these guys act like the pace car on the parade laps of the Daytona 500.
What was the strangest moment of the season?
The rain delay at Tunkhannock on Thursday. It rained like the world was going to end, then four minutes later the game resumed under sunny skies.