Wallenpaupack Area's varsity diamond squad poised for playoff push
The Wallenpaupack Area varsity softball team celebrated Senior Day in the best way possible, pulling out a big win in the bottom of the seventh over Dunmore.
After piling up eight strikeouts through the course of the game, senior pitcher Maddie Schmalzle put the icing on the cake by sliding into home on a short grounder hit by Mia Watson.
This electrifying play propelled the Lady Bucks to a 4-3 victory.
Prior to taking the field, Paupack recognized team members soon to graduate: Kiarra McCloud, Madison Schmalzle, Taylor Van Wettering, Rachael Tirjan, and exchange student Cecile Madsen.
Kiarra McCloud played softball for three seasons and has been a football manager for four years.
She is a member of the National Honor Society and has earned both Gold and Silver Scholar Awards. She is a member of SADD and FCCLA.
Kiarra will attend Loyola University of Maryland where she will major in elementary education with a minor in special and urban education.
Madison Schmalzle has played field hockey, swam, and played softball since freshman year.
She was named to the league all-stars and the all-region team for softball as a sophomore and as a junior. She has earned the Gold Scholar Award in the National Honor Society, is a member of SADD, the Foreign Language Club, the Prom Committee, and the Athletic Council.
Madison plans to attend Towson University to major in chemistry and minor in international business.
Taylor Van Wettering has played softball and has served as a manager of the swim team for four years. As a junior, she earned the Coaches Award for softball.
She is on the executive council for National Honor Society and has earned the Gold Scholar Award for four years.
She was named Student of the Month for academic excellence in January. She has been a member the Foreign Language Club and the Guidance Advisory Council.
Taylor plans to attend Marywood University to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant and will minor in Spanish.
Rachael Tirjan has played softball, basketball, and soccer for four seasons and has been named to the league all-star team in each sport.
As a sophomore and junior she made all-region for softball and earned an appointment to the all-region team for soccer her junior and senior seasons.
She is a member of the National Honor Society and has earned the Gold Award. She has been named a National Merit Finalist is a member of SADD, FBLA, the Athletic Council, the National Honor Society Executive Council, and she is a member of the Hemlock Grove United Methodist Church youth group.
Rachael will attend Messiah College where she will major in biology in a pre-med track. There she will also continue her soccer career.
Cecile Madsen has spent the year at Wallenpaupack as an exchange student.
A gymnast hailing from Denmark, she opted to try her hand at different sports while visiting the US. She played tennis last fall, has been on the cheerleading squad, and gave softball a try this spring. She has also been a member of the Foreign Language Club.
This summer, Cecile will return to Denmark where soon after she will attend college.
“We had our ups and downs this year,” said Schmalzle.
Van Wettering finished the statement, saying: “But we always played our best and everything works out in the end.”
Head Coach Dan Gumble praised each of his players individually.
He mentioned Kiarra’s dedication to the game and team despite not seeing much varsity time.
He lauded Taylor’s indomitable spirit and her off-field leadership, still supporting the team after a season-ending injury.
He noted Cecile’s desire to learn a game she had never played, plus her improvement through the season.
He pointed out that Schmalzle is soft-spoken but a leader on the field and that Tirjan is the epitome of athleticism.
Dunmore took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first but Paupck battled back in the bottom of the frame when Schmalzle singled to drive in Tirjan.
The duo did it again in the bottom of the third to make it a 2-2 game, but the visitors tallied in the fourth to take the lead again.
Tension built through the next innings as the scoreboard stayed the same.
Trailing with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Schmalzle batted in Tirjan once more to tie the game at three a side.
At worse, the ballgame would now go to extra innings, but that’s not what the Lady Bucks wanted.
With two down, Schmalzle stole second, got into scoring position, and then came home off Watson’s poke.
Tirjan and Gabby Passenti each had a double for the Buckhorns while Tirjan swiped a trio of bases. Schmalzle went all seven innings throwing 108 pitches while giving up just three hits, three runs, a walk, and one error.
The following afternoon the Lady Bucks hosted Pocono Mountain East. They held off a seventh inning rally by the Cardinals to win 4-3.
Maddie Sottung had a solo homer for Paupack while Schmalzle again put in a full shift in the circle sending 10 batters down on strikes.
Shikellamy has opted out of the District II/IV Class 5A tournament, reducing the number of teams in the post-season to six.
According to Coach Gumble, his Lady Bucks should face North Pocono on May 21.
They went 1-1 with the Lady Trojans during the regular season, but should they prevail, Paupack will definitely be the underdog.
Also in the hunt for the title are Abington Heights and Pittston Area, both of whom defeated Paupack earlier in the season.