|THE FINAL WORD: THOUGHTS ON THE SPRING WEATHER, AND THE SPRING ACTION (2018-04-25)
I’ve seen some bad springs. I’ve seen snow on the ground through the first week of April, and fields too wet to play on through mid-April.
What I’ve never seen is snow on the ground on April 20, and temperatures consistency in the 30s into the third week of the month.
I’ve made no secret that I despise the spring season here. I love baseball and softball, and shooting track & field is one of favorites parts of my job, but the weather this spring, while a bit too the extreme, is not too far out of the ordinary.
With all the rain, the postponements pile up, and the majority of the baseball and softball season end up being played in three weeks. It’s more of an impediment for baseball, since softball pitchers can throw four, five, or six games a week without much problem. Baseball pitchers are required by rule to rest between appearances, the duration of the rest determined by how many pitches they have thrown.
I’ve always been a proponent of starting the season in mid-April, and running the regular season to June 1, with the playoffs following. The postseason already runs well past graduation in Pa., so it wouldn’t be much of a problem. New York State could still squeeze the postseason in before graduation.
However, I’ve been informed by travel baseball and softball parents that it would be an imposition on kids who play travel ball.
It appears we’ll just have to deal with wintry weather in the spring, and the kids playing baseball, softball, and golf in parkas and mufflucks.
One common theme this spring has been the number of freshmen (and younger) getting a great deal of playing time on the diamonds, and taking advantage of it.
The foursome that steps to the forefront in this discussion has to be Athens’ Harley Sullivan, Emma Repsher, Megan Collins, and Aubrey Hatch.
Sullivan is starting at catcher, while Repsher is starting at first base. Collins and Hatch are both getting time, and will likely get more as the season progresses. All four have shown they can hit, and have good heads for the game.
Waverly also has a pair of freshman starting on the softball diamond in Hali Jenner, and Alyssa Sindoni. The duo starts in the ever-important middle in field positions with Sindoni at shortstop, and Jenner at second base.
Sayre also has freshmen getting playing time on the softball diamond, including the battery of pitcher Allyssa Murrelle, and catcher Gabbi Randall. The Lady Redskins have taken some lumps this season, but there is reason for hope.
There are also a pair of 8th-graders making an impact in Kylie Zimmerman at Tioga, and pitcher Rhianna Lawrence at S-VE.
On the baseball diamond, Tioga recently promoted Derrick Gage from the JVs, and he produced immediately. A future fixture at third base, Gage has been the designated hitter, and may play some outfield.
Sayre’s Zach Moore hasn’t had much opportunity to play on a talented Redskins team, but has produced in limited playing time.
It’s not just the diamonds where freshmen (and younger) are producing.
On the track, Athens’ Ben Gambrell IV has stepped to the forefront in terms of making an immediate and impressive impact. He has already qualified for Districts in the 100-meter, the long jump, and the triple jump, and is just 0.16 off the qualifying time in the 200-meter dash.
For the Lady Wildcats, Katie Lynch, Emma Roe, and Leah Liechty have scored points, and will be major contributors in the future.
Sayre’s Carrie Claypool has also made an immediate impact for the Sayre track team in the middle and long-distance runs, and Tavone McClenny (jumps and pole vault) and Zach Belles (throws) have consistently scored points for the Sayre boys.
Waverly has a pair of veteran freshman in Collin Wright and David Hallett, who have been major point-getters, and their classmates Austin Kimble and Caden Wheeler have joined them as major contributors.
Eighth-graders Emme Hall has fared well in the early-going for the Tioga Lady Tigers.
Eighth-grader Olivia Nittinger is already a seasoned veteran for the Lady Wolverines.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Waverly freshmen Sidney Tomasso and Gabby Picco, but they are far from newcomers, having both qualified for the New York State girls golf championships last year.
A few random thoughts on the spring:
• You can pretty much count on Athens senior Breana Gambrell qualifying for the PIAA Championships in the 100-meter dash, the long jump, and the triple jump. Ditto with senior Emily Lunger in the 200 or 400 (whichever she chooses) and the high jump.
Junior Ariana Gambrell will likely qualify in the 100-meter hurdles, and junior Rachel Hutchison could qualify in any of the sprints.
You may as well add Hutchison’s name to the list in the 300-meter hurdles. After running it just a half-dozen times, she broke the school record Monday at Wellsboro, and is less than a half-second off last year’s medal times.
The Lady Wildcats could challenge for a state title.
• Sayre baseball has to be the favorites to defend their District 4, Class AA titles. Millville and Montgomery appear to be the Redskins’ main competition.
• Tioga baseball could challenge for District 4 / Section IV title this season, but they’ll need to get a little more hitting to go along with some outstanding pitching.
• With a young Notre Dame team down just a bit, Tioga softball has an opportunity to make a run at Section IV title. The Lady Tigers pitching combo of seniors Mariah Culver and Madalyn Dydynski is as good as there is in the area.
• Waverly junior pitcher Wendi Hammond has always been good at hitting her spots, but this year she’s throwing significantly harder.
• Speaking of Waverly softball, senior Zoe Mennig and sophomore Riley Hall have been hitting the ball hard in the middle of the Lady Wolverine line-up.
• Athens softball is 3-3 now after an 0-3 start, but keep in mind the losses were to three of the best pitchers in the NTL. Sophomore Megan Bennett has pitched well for the Lady Wildcats, and should continue to get better.
Without a senior on the roster, the future is very bright for the Lady Wildcats.
• If there’s amore dominant team, regardless of sport, than the Waverly girls golf team, I can’t think of one. The neatest part of the story is that it’s a family affair — the Picco sisters, and Tomasso sisters are cousins.
The Final Word will return soon.
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