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FROM THE PRESS BOX: A CRYSTAL BALL LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2025 SOFTBALL SEASON (2024-06-12)

The 2024 softball season in the Valley was an interesting one, with four young teams showing improvement as the season progressed.

Tioga posted a 17-4 record and advanced to the Section IV, Class C title game — a young team perhaps arriving a year ahead of schedule.

After a slow start, Athens, also a young team, finished 13-8, losing an extra-inning heartbreaker to Loyalsock in the District 4, Class AAA semifinals.

Waverly posted a 10-7 mark in its initial season in the STAC, again with a young team, ending its season with a 2-0 loss to Sidney in the Section IV, Class B quarterfinals.

Sayre finished the season with a 5-15 record, and while that may not sound like much, it’s the most wins the program has posted in more than a decade.

All four teams were young this season, so the question is, what does 2025 hold in store?

I’ve dusted off the crystal ball, and while it’s a bit foggy since Opening Day is still 9 1/2 month away, but here goes …

Athens Wildcats: The Wildcats lose one senior, albeit a very talented one in catcher Ashlyn VanFleet, but return a plethora of talent, including ace pitcher Savannah Persun.

Athens should hit and score runs with Maddie Hiley, Gretchan Hiley, Persun, Jules Pack, Ella Coyle, McKenna Jarvis, and Savannah Finan all returning.

The defense was improved this season, and should only get better.

Prediction: With Persun, and both Hiley very capable pitchers, Athens has great depth in the circle, and a lot of experience at the plate returning. There’s no reason to think, the Wildcats won’t improve on this year’s 13-8 mark. … 2025 record: 16-4 regular season.

Sayre Redskins: The Redskins lose a few seniors, including Meghan Flynn, but return a talented group.

Junior Raegan Parrish was improved in the circle this season, and freshman Zoe Ward showed flashes of promise. Both will need to maintain an upward trajectory for the Redskins to continue to improve.

With Abbie McGaughey returning for her senior season to anchor the line-up, the Redskins should score some runs.

The defense was better this season, but still needs to improve.

Prediction: P.J. Davidson and Kurt Maynard have done a tremendous job with this program in two years at the helm. If they return, and the roster isn’t impacted by the transfer portal, there’s no reason to think they won’t improve on their win total. … 2025 record: 7-13 regular season.

Tioga Tigers: The Tigers lose a pair of senior starters, but have quite a bit of talent coming up through the pipeline, including a trio of youngsters brought up for the postseason.

With RaeAnne Feeko, Erin Luther, and McKenzie Williams all returning, as well as Emily Shiner, Lily Mezzatesta, Jade Keaty, and Vanessa Tunnicliff, Tioga could score even more runs than it did this season — about 13 runs per game.

With Luther and Feeko returning in the circle, and a young arm coming up through the pipeline, the Tigers will have pitching depth.

Tioga looks to be even more athletic next season, so the defense could be even better.

Prediction: Tioga beat Union Springs in the IAC Small School championship game, then lost to the Wolves in the Section IV, Class C Championship game. There’s a good chance these two teams meet again next year in those two games. … 2025 record: 18-2 regular season.

Waverly Wolverines: The Wolverines posted a 10-6 record in their first run through the STAC regular season, with a young roster.

They graduate one starter in pitcher Olivia Robinson, but junior Loralye Anthony was good in limited action in the circle, and junior Brinn Cooney showed she could contribute there as well.

Freshman Hannah Carpenter, Anthony, sophomore Maddie Cron, and Cooney led an offense that showed it can score runs.

In the STAC, teams take advantage of mistakes, so Waverly’s defense will need to improve.

Prediction: If someone steps up in the circle, there’s no reason to think Waverly won’t improve on this season. … 2025 record: 12-5 regular season.


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