When South Williamsport coach Scott Stugart asked Sarah March to be the team's catcher last year she was less than thrilled. She had not played the difficult position since Little League, but accepted it and flourished.
It really was a microcosm of March's life.
Whatever is asked, March delivers. She is the ultimate soldier. Make that, the ultimate Midshipman.
March will attend Navy starting this summer when she opens the next chapter in her life with basic training. March has wanted to serve in the military much of her life and seems like the ideal recruit. She is a good student, a team leader and possesses a terrific work ethic.
"She has such maturity for a young lady and that's obvious with her getting into Navy," South coach Scott Stugart said. "I hate to see the season end because we will miss her leadership next year. I'm hoping it rubs off on the underclassmen."
March is a four-year starter at South and earned all-state honors last year. She has played softball most of her life and has simultaneously wished to serve after graduation. She chose the Navy and is eager to contribute starting this summer. March joins her oldest sister, brother-in-law and grandfathers in serving and will work in cryptology, hoping to become a linguist.
"I love school and everything but I think the military was a better fit for me," March said. "I want to be able to excel at my job and do well and after the Navy maybe get into United Nations work or missionary work or something like that."
That March wants to work in a field where effectively communicating is a must seems appropriate. She is an excellent communicator for South and has helped the Mounties start 6-2. March has skillfully handled a young pitching staff and has been a rock for freshmen Anna Steer and Alana Stugart who have won all six games.
That March wants to keep giving back after serving in the Navy explains a lot too. She is a giver, not a taker and Saturday was one of three seniors who helped organize a game against Muncy that promoted MS Awareness. To see March as only an excellent softball player is to miss who she truly is.
"Sarah juggles a lot of things. She works and does well in school and sports and is a good team leader," Stugart said. "She has the whole package."
Before serving the country, March is doing a nice job serving her team. South is off to its best start since March's freshman year in 2010. That year, March burst onto the scholastic scene as a quality second baseman. She moved to first base a year later and went behind the plate last year. Oh yeah, she also played first and third base last week against Lewisburg. Put her anywhere and March excels.
Despite having not played catcher since Little League, March looked like a natural when she resumed those duties last year. She is even better this season, effectively blocking balls, possessing a great arm and combining good instincts with her intelligence.
March is equally impressive offensively. The team's No. 3 hitter is outstanding at driving runners in and has been the best hitter in a potent lineup. March has hit three home runs and already has more than 10 RBIs. Add the intangibles March provides and South can not ask for more.
"Just the growth in her leadership over the last two years and from last year to this year is amazing," Stugart said. "Some are good leaders by leading by example but they are quiet. Sarah is a leader both ways. I can't say enough about her."
The Navy is always looking for hard, ambitious workers who can become part of the country's backbone. They found a good one in South Williamsport.
"The military makes good people and good workers," March said. "I'm excited about that."
South is excited they have March for at least 12 more games. They already know she is a good person and a good worker.
SOLID DUO: Montoursville (2-4) is a young team with just one senior that is playing in the fiercely competitive HAC-II. It is not the ideal league to earn on the job training, but the Warriors have two rocks in pitcher Cayla Treaster and catcher Kelsey Stine. Both are off to good starts. Both also are showing their teammates not just that they can play the game, but how to play the game.
Treaster is not an overpowering pitcher, but is a pitcher's pitcher. The sophomore hits her spots, moves the ball around and never gets rattled. She is facing tough opponents nearly every time she goes in the circle, but Treaster always is focused, always is calm no matter the situation. That is half the battle.
"I told her after the game there's nobody in this area that I would rather go into a fight with because there's no quit in that kid," Montoursville coach Mike Tate said following a 6-0 loss at Loyalsock last Tuesday. "That kid just smiles, keeps positive and keeps fighting. She won't quit. She won't let anything faze her. She's just a hard worker."
So is Stine who is quickly becoming one of the district's premier catches. Loyalsock catcher Amanda Daneker is the standard all district catchers are measured against and Stine measured up well last Tuesday. She picked a runner off third, threw out a runner trying to steal second and rarely let a ball get past her.
Stine has all the tools and the sophomore combines her big arm and strong instincts with a good bat. She went 1-for-2 with a walk against Loyalsock and has hit safely in nearly every game.
"Amanda Daneker is the best all-around player I've seen in a long, long time in this area and as far as I'm concerned-and this is just my opinion-my catcher showed (Tuesday) every bit of having the potential to be another Amanda. When she blocks pitches that are coming up way short and are coming up on her that's impressive. She works her butt off too...they all do. They are a fun bunch of kids to work with. They have a good time and if we keep plugging away we'll be good."
EXTRA BASES: Hughesvilleis showing some good improvement. The Spartans (1-6) beat Shikellamy, 7-2 for their first win last Monday before holding leads against both Central Columbia and South. Freshman Elle Watts earned a win against Shikellamy and went 3-for-4 against South ... Jersey Shore Pitcher Rebecca Caputo is throwing well. Caputo won consecutive games against Shikellamy and Shamokin last week and was an out away from a perfect game against Shikellamy. Caputo is 3-0 and has allowed just nine hits in those three games ... South freshmen Anna Steer and Alana Stugart are making rapid development. They have won all six games in the circle and Steer improved to 4-2 last week. In wins over Hughesville and Muncy, the freshmen duo also combined for five hits and four RBIs.
1. Warrior Run (8-0): The defending District 4 Class AA champions were pushed hard for the first time this season against Southern Columbia and Mifflinburg and responded strong both times. Warrior Run overcame a 2-0 deficit against Southern and won on Gabby Shrawder's walk-off home run before downing Mifflinburg, 6-2 in 11 innings Saturday. The Defenders are 32-3 since the start of last season and are having different players come through at key times, including Devin Nicholas, Tay Parker and Jackie Clemens who had consecutive 11th inning RBI hits against Mifflinburg. Katy Swartz had three hits against Montoursville and Parker struck out more than 30 in three wins.
2. Williamsport (5-1): The Millionaires received some good experience playing two of Philadelphia's best Catholic League teams last Saturday, losing 2-1 to Conwell Egan in 9 innings and beating Archbishop Ryan and its Hofstra-bound pitcher, 3-2 in eight innings. Winning or losing both of those games really did not matter. The experience of playing those heavyweights was the important thing, especially for such a young team. Samantha Fischer keeps hitting well. The first baseman went 2-for-2 and hit a go-ahead, eighth-inning single against Archbishop Ryan. She has three multi-hit performances in her last four games. Pitcher Alexis Bower has struck out 74 in 44 innings and had 16 in Philadelphia.
3. Loyalsock (6-1): Loyalsock is off to its best start since 2009 and scored slammed five home runs in quality wins over Montoursville and Southern Columbia last week, winning those games by a 14-4 margin. The Lancers are hitting well throughout the lineup and have delivered at least eight hits in every game while averaging 11 runs per game. Freshman Kendall Watkins hit two home runs last week while Daneker, Allison Czap and Allie Pagana also went deep. Former Major Leaguer Tom O'Malley has done a nice job and his players are absorbing his lessons like a sponge.
"He is very invested in us and he wants us to do our best hitting," Czap said. "That really motivates the whole team and makes us want to strive to hit better."
4. Milton (5-1): The Black Panthers lost their first game, 7-6 to Mifflinburg last Wednesday but are hitting as well anyone in the district. Milton has scored at least seven runs and delivered at least nine hits in all six games. Mackenna Miller has at least one extra-base hit in all six games.
5. Wellsboro (1-1): The Green Hornets are going to be playing a lot over the next month since they keep getting rained out. They have only played on one day, a double header at the Northeast Bradford Tournament, nine days ago. Wellsboro is the clear favorite in the NTL-West and a District 4 Class AA team to keep an eye on.
Player of the week
Cindie Wilt, Hughesville: The senior pitcher/first baseman is hitting as well as anyone around. Wilt went 6-for-7 with a home run, a double and three RBIs last week. She is hitting .583 and has yet to make an error.
Game of the week
Warrior Run at Loyalsock: Today's game at Short Park should be a great one between teams who are a combined 14-1. Warrior Run won two one-run thriller last year, including the final one in extra innings.