Wallenpaupack Area varsity squad preps for regular season action
Last spring the Wallenpaupack Area varsity softball team closed out their Lackawanna League campaign with a 10-4 tally after beating Delaware Valley 14-9 in a one-game playoff for the Division 2 title.
Armed with a slew of key individuals to last season’s success, the Lady Bucks aim to stay on top of the division once more and hopefully extend their wins deep into the post-season.
Back in Business
The Lady Bucks return a slew of veteran players from last year.
Starting off in the circle is junior Maddie Schmalzle who brings two years of slinging experience at the varsity level to the diamond. She went 9-4 last season and closed the year with a 3.65 ERA and 41Ks.
Behind the plate, classmate Rachael Tirjan, who has been starting in that position for just as long. She led the team with a .579 batting average. 33 hits and 24 runs.
At first, senior Angelina Ioppolo is back. She paced the club in extra base hits last season with seven doubles and a triple and led the RBI count with 23.
Senior outfielder Rebeca Pizzo, another returning starter, led the team in homers last spring with three.
Seniors Natalia Montalvo and Olivia Gregory, steady contributors to the Lady Buckhorns for several seasons also make a return.
Junior Taylor Van Wettering also returns, as does sophomore Mia Watson, after sitting out freshman season.
Complementing the plethora of players in the line-up for yet another season are several new prospects.
At the top of this list is freshman Maddie Sottung, a solid outfielder, who according to Head Coach Dan Gumble.
Ups & Downs
Heavy late winter snows accompanied by days off from school certainly didn’t help usher in the start of the pre-season.
Last year, at least, the Lady Bucks made it onto the field for a few days before the mid-March blizzard crippled their practice sessions.
So far, this “spring” the Paupack ladies have been relegated entirely to the gym and batting cages in the few days they’ve been able to get in those essential workouts.
“The kids are very positive, especially with the weather being what it has been,” said Gumble. “In practices they’ve had to come together.
“ They are very interested in building up the program together as a team more so than ever before. Not that there was a lack of camaraderie in previous seasons. It just seems like they are very focused on that.”
Lack of outdoor practice time means Gumble has yet to assess where the Lady Bucks are as far as outfielding. However, he is happy with how things look with the infielders.
Offensively, too, he pointed out that the team looks sharp.
“We’ve been swinging the bats pretty well,” Gumble said, “Given how things have been, we’re doing OK.”
The Purple & White had to scratch a pre-season scrimmage against Pocono Mountain East but still have two away exhibition games on tap.
The first is at Pleasant Valley on March 26 and the second at Dunmore on March 31.
Wallenpaupack kicks off the regular season with an away game against division rival, North Pocono on April 2. The Lady Trojans return this season with a pair of experienced pitchers as well as some solid hitting and infielding.
“North Pocono should be very good,” said Gumble. “Delaware Valley should give us a fight as well.”
Paupack doesn’t square off versus the senior heavy DV squad until April 12 on the Warriors home field.
Prior to that, the Lady Bucks face Western Wayne on April 5 at home and welcome East Stroudsburg North two days later.
They then take to the road once again to face Honesdale on April 9 before winding up the first round of divisional games with DV.