For John Richter, the Lady Lions head softball coach, this season will be about growth.
The Lackawanna Trail softball team will dress one senior this season, Cali Fauquier. Senior Sam Baltrusaitis, who is committed to Marywood, is sidelined with an injury. After losing four everyday players last year, including pitcher Allie Decker who is now tossing for Alvernia, Richter has had to regroup.
“We have our infield returning, so there’s that. But we are so young. We are looking to improve everyday-and that starts with practices. Cali is really our only player with a good amount of experience, and she only came out to the team last year. Other players are going to step up, I’ll look towards Virginia (Van Fleet) and our sophomores,” said Richter.
He continued, “Our rosters are not complete yet though. Morgan, Belle, Olivia, and Leslee played quite a bit last year, and will have big roles this season. Virginia will log time in the outfield, and we have a bunch of freshman who will make an impact.”
“We have been focusing on the fundamentals- not making the same mistake twice. We are also correcting some bad habits that started in the younger levels, it is all about growth,” said the coach, who was a third baseman at the University of Scranton, and is on their wall of fame.
Richter also stressed the importance of playing throughout the year. Several of the Lions suit up for local travel teams over the summer. Though many athletes tend to be multisport, someone do still find the time
to gain the valuable extra experience.
In the classroom, Richter says he, and longtime assistant coach Gary Wilmot, are fortunate that all of their players are outstanding students and citizens. “They really are a good bunch of kids, I think the lowest grade on the team is an 80,” he said with a smile.
With great senior leadership, Baltrusaitis will be in the dug out and at practices, the youth and inexperience might not be as worrisome as the coach thinks.
“We’ll see once we get outside though,” he added.
Richter said, “Softball is a great sport to foster teamwork, I hope these girls can enjoy this experience with their teammates. And also take pride in what they are doing, we have some kids who are brand new to the sport, and they realize when they work on the little things, they see the improvement. Once they can do all these things-including learning and growing from their mistakes- the wins will come.”
In Class 2A, all six teams will head to the postseason, and Richter hopes to make a run.
“We have a lot of confidence in Bella on the mound, she has been putting the work in on the offseason. She will do great, we can get there behind her,” he said.
The Lions are scheduled to take the field this Saturday morning in a scrimmage, hosting Wyoming Area, but weather conditions will dictate the availability of the field. They open the regular season at home against Elk Lake on April 1.
Roster: Seniors Samantha Baltrusaitis and Cali Fauquier. Juniors Virginia VanFleet and Stephanie Kohinsky. Sophomores Isabella Coleman, Morgan Faist, Leslee Kimmel, Olivia Rosengrant, Sierra Dejesus, and Victoria Kohinsky. Freshmen Dariane Jones, Emma Oswald, Amaralis Thiel, Lillian Rejrat, and Annabelle Gumble.
Schedule: Mar. 16 vs. Wyoming Area, noon; Mar. 19 vs. Dunmore, 4:15 p.m.; Apr. 1 vs. Elk Lake, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 4 at Mountain View, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 8 vs. Forest City, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 11 at Montrose, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 15 vs. Blue Ridge, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 17 vs. Susquehanna, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 22 vs. Mid Valley, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 25 at Elk Lake, 4:30 p.m.; Apr. 27 vs. Mountain View, 11 a.m.; Apr. 29 at Forest City, 4:30 p.m.; May 2 vs. Montrose, 4:30 p.m.; May 6 at Blue Ridge, 4:30 p.m.; May 9 at Susquehanna, 4:30 p.m.; May 13 at Mid Valley, 4:30 p.m.