Wallenpaupack Area's Caitlin Donahue is headed to Dowling College to continue her softball career.

The excited whispers began as many as seven years ago.

Wallenpaupack Area's varsity softball team had been struggling mightily in the always-rugged Lackawanna League.

Wins were hard to come by in Division One against perennial title contenders like Abington Heights, Prep and Delaware Valley.

However, help appeared to be on the way.

Paupack's junior high girls were dominating their competition during both the regular season and travel team campaigns.

So, when this particular group of girls finally broke through to the "big time," absolutely no one at Paupack was surprised.

Coach Dan Gumble's squad already owns back-to-back Lackawanna League titles and is a heavy favorite to make it three straight.

As The News Eagle went to press on Friday, the Lady Bucks were 5-1 and once again all alone atop the division standings.

Gold Glover

One of the main reasons for this sustained success is the rock-steady presence of Caitlin Donahue.

An athletic, tough-as-nails southpaw, Donahue arrived on the varsity scene four years ago and promptly won a spot in the starting line-up.

Caitlin took over at first base and never looked back.

Now a senior, Donahue's dazzling resume includes a pair of Division One championships, travel team titles and all-star kudos.

Varsity skipper Dan Gumble is one of Donahue's biggest fans and has nothing but praise for his senior co-captain.

"Caitlin does a terrific job for us defensively at first base," he said. "She's a very intense kid, especially on the softball field. Caitlin works really hard in the off-season and it shows."

This past week at the high school, Donahue and her family gathered to formally announce her future intentions.

After months of serious consideration, Caitlin has decided to continue her academic career at Dowling College on Long Island.

There, Donahue will play softball and pursue studies in political science.

It's a decision that Coach Gumble applauds. He is absolutely convinced that Donahue's skills will translate nicely at the next level of competition.

"You don't see very many kids who start all four years at the varsity level anymore, but Caitlin definitely earned it," Coach Gumble said.

"She's one of our co-captains this year and the younger kids on the team really look up to her. She's a leader and I think she'll do very well in college."

By the Numbers

Donahue is known around the Lackawanna League for her Gold Glove defense.

A slick-fielding first baseman, Caitlin's athletic presence on the corner is a deadly weapon in a sport that features slap hitters, countless bunts and station-to-station tactics.

She possesses excellent instincts for the ball, has solid range and a strong, accurate arm.

Offensively, Donahue can bat anywhere from third to seventh and be productive.

Earlier in the season, Caitlin wreaked havoc on archrival Honesdale. She belted out two clutch hits, scored one run and drove in another.

Most recently, Donahue delivered another big blow in Paupack's comeback win over Scranton Prep.

"She does just about everything well," Coach Gumble said. "We're really going to miss her when she's gone next season."

So will all those Paupack fans who've watched her evolve from junior high phenom to varsity star.

Caitlin is the daughter of Robert and Jo-Anna Donahue.